Francis Kéré presents mobile stage for Berlin theater

The design for Francis Kéré's temporary mobile stage at "Hangar 5" of Berlin's disused Tempelhof Airport has been unveiled. It's part of Volksbühne's plan, under director Chris Dercon, to spread theater across Berlin.

The new director of the famous Berlin theater Volksbühne, Chris Dercon, is leaving his first mark on the city's cultural landscape. Dercon commissioned architect Francis Kéré with a draft for a temporary stage at the Tempelhof Airport, and the two presented the design on Monday. 

Kéré's vision for the now defunct airport's "Hangar 5" is a mix of theater and architecture. His construction consists of a round, amphitheater-like stage with space for up to 400 people. While the stage will be positioned in the hangar, it will also be mobile so it can be taken outside.

The delicately designed work of art is made of wood and fabric. "We are standing at a construction site, but it is a good start," Kéré told news agency dpa.

Read more: Francis Kéré's stunning new pavilion opens in London

The architect from Burkina Faso has been living in Berlin for 20 years. He became famous with his design for the arts village planned in his home country by director Christoph Schlingensief, who died in 2010.

Known for his socially and ecologically minded designs, Kéré has also garnered attention for his primary school in Burkina Faso and has held solo museum shows in Munich and Philadelphia. He was also one of the architects behind Geneva's International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.

Theater for Berlin 

Chris Dercon, a Belgian art historian and former director of Tate Modern in London, described Kéré's work as "flexible and radically simple."

The theater has been renamed Volksbühne Berlin and, under Dercon's leadership, aims to transport theater into the city via satellite stages like the one at Tempelhof.

Read more: Why multicultural Berlin can't stomach the internationalization of its most traditional theater

The Volksbühne will present theater and dance shows in this mobile theater every year in autumn and in the long term, perhaps also in the summer. At the moment, however, funding for the temporary theater's completion has not yet been secured, according to Dercon.

Related Subjects

Finished or not, the new theater space at "Hangar 5" will be inaugurated on September 14, 2017, with a world premiere of the dance piece "A Dancer's Day" by the French choreographer Boris Charmatz. He will also be opening the Volksbühne's new season with the dance show "Foud de Danse" on September 10.

rb/kbm (with dpa)

Architect Francis Kéré - a master of simplicity

Exercise in keeping cool

With his first work, the elementary school in his home village of Gando, Kéré won the renowned Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004. The pressed blocks of earth he used in the structure absorb heat and lower the temperature inside. The large roof made of steel and concrete provides shade and allows air to circulate between the roof and the ceiling.

Architect Francis Kéré - a master of simplicity

Lycée Schorge

The Lycée Schorge, a secondary school in Burkina Faso, follows Kéré's principals of ecological building, according to which he implements local materials and techniques. Kéré also insists on hiring local workers who employ simple tools. That way he ensures that his buildings are rooted in the local culture. Some 350 pupils now attend the Lycée Schorge.

Architect Francis Kéré - a master of simplicity

Giving education a home

In Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, education is expensive and illiteracy is widespread. That is one of the reasons why Kéré wanted to make a statement with his modern Lycée Schorge building.

Architect Francis Kéré - a master of simplicity

Combining skills

Here is another view of the Lycée Schorge. The students spend their breaks in the sunny courtyard, which is tucked in the semi-circle formed by the curved side of the building. Here, the shade provided by the overhanging roof is also visible. The construction combines German engineering with African handicraft. Kéré studied architecture in Berlin.

Architect Francis Kéré - a master of simplicity

School extension

Just recently, Francis Kéré's school in Gando was extended. The building's roof is specifically designed to keep the interior cool in the African heat. Today, the architect manages project the world over - from Burkina Faso to India. He is also increasingly in demand in Europe. In Berlin, he has been commissioned to turn a disused airplane hangar into a mobile theater.

Architect Francis Kéré - a master of simplicity

Kéré's unique approach

Francis Kéré seeks to combine the cultural influences of his home country, Burkina Faso, with his academic experience at the Technical University in Berlin. The current exhibition at Munich's Neue Pinakothek museum, "Radically Simple," pays tribute to the 52-year-old's extraordinary talent among today's architects.

Architect Francis Kéré - a master of simplicity

Beyond song at the opera village

The interdisciplinary opera village project in Burkina Faso was the vision of performance artist and director Christoph Schlingensief before he died of cancer in 2010. Kéré built the intercultural center near the capital city of Ouagadougou. Pictured is the health clinic at the facility.

Architect Francis Kéré - a master of simplicity

A temple of architecture

The architecture museum of the Technical University in Munich is housed in the Pinakothek der Moderne. The differences between this building and Kéré's designs couldn't be more drastic. He is a master of simplicity. "Radically Simple," an exhibition of his work, runs from November 17 2016 through February 26, 2017.