Teatro real, Madrid (Spain)
During the renovation of Teatro Real de Madrid into a first-class opera house, it was foreseen the need for a large acoustic shell that allowed the use of the venue for symphonic concerts, under the best possible acoustic, aesthetic and functional conditions. In 1997 and after the development of the corresponding acoustic project, the theatre released an international public tender for the design and construction of the shell, which was finally awarded to Chemtrol.
As useful general concept for understanding the complexity of this piece we must point out that its design, in addition to meet the expected acoustic and aesthetic criteria, had to comply with other parameters associated to the theatre´s own limitations arising from both, its architectural characteristics (transits height, storage spaces dimensions, etc.) and its operational procedures. As an example of these, more than 85% of the shell structure was made in aluminium and most of its components are wheeled or store don special carts. Finally, the finishing surfaces were made of boxwood plywood.
To make easier this shell´s description, we could divide its construction into walls and ceiling. The former were composed by towers and panels. The towers were covered with curly wood as a replica of the decorative columns in the audience area. The towers, given the height limitations in the storage areas, were divided in two pieces with a mixed electrical/pneumatic motorized system performing their rotation and extension automatically to pass from 7.3m to a maximum height of 12.4m. The walls were completed with panels stored in carts that allowed, in combination with some upper machinery chain hoists, to deploy or retract them like a blind.
Regarding the access doors and similarly to the side panels, the 6 units (3 on each side) built were stored and transported on special carts, using the same fixing elements for its coupling to the lateral towers.
The ceiling follows the modular conception of the shell but, in this case, divided into primary and secondary structures, stored separately on specially designed wagons. Given the height and weight of these structures their loading/unloading into the carts required the use of a hydraulic elevator. The spaces in between the structures were filled with wooden structures providing most of the visible surface of the shell´s ceiling. The intersection of the structures served for the suspension of the shell´s lighting fixtures, connected to the house dimming system and controlled from the lighting desks.
In summary, we are in front of a unique piece in terms of its dimensions, construction singularity and performance, which constitutes a symbol of the new path of this Madrid based coliseum.
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