For one week during May this year, during the Detour de France, Collective Etc. was invited by the association “Vivre la rue” to open a construction site in Brest, in the district of Recouvrance, Saint Malo. In this context, they offered to add a contemporary layer to the ruins of the street, resulting in the One:One Theatre. Their intention was to highlight the existence of the access to the new footpath that connects the small garden to the staircase in the back of the street, which was made safe to be open to the public. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Founded in 1989, the association “Vivre la rue” was based around a common desire to preserve and rehabilitate the Saint Malo street. It organizes numerous cultural events and open rehabilitation workshops. The Saint Malo street miraculously survived the bombs that destroyed the city during World War II. Today it is the oldest street in Brest. Out of the twelve remaining houses, only two still have a roof: the association has its offices at number 17 and number 15 is a place to host artists. Every year, renovation workshops are conducted: ruins were turned into vegetable gardens, and most of the multi-century walls were rebuilt, with the help of many volunteers and staff.
House number 11 remained vacant, between two ruins converted into a vegetable garden and an exhibition space. We decided to convert it into a theater. The one:one theater was born out of the combination of these two desires. Once the beams got delivered, we hoisted them into the openings in the first floor, then anchored them into the granite walls. The deck was built on the ground in three parts and then lifted and inserted between the beams. The sides were made following the same steps.
We wanted to give a cultural function to house number 11. We built a stage and designed a removable cinema display. The stage is built with a batch of identical pallets that form the foundations where a wooden deck is laid. The projection screen is made from a piece of fabric taken from an old movie theater. In order to let the artists prepare and make-up before coming on stage, the small room at the back of the house was converted into a clockroom with a storage cabinet, mirrors, and a few chairs to prepare.
From a set of old school chairs, we set up a paint shop to cover them all in shades reminiscent of velvet seats. Each chair is numbered and clearly identified as belonging to the one:one theater. The footbridge is also dressed in a pattern reminiscent of the curtains and ornamental decorations found in classical theaters. Approximately 900 holes form the decorative ensemble.
The one:one theater becomes a new cultural venue for Saint Malo street and the city of Brest. The wooden footbridge is accessible by the upper path, passes through the theater by the windows and forms a balcony overlooking the street. The stage is set on the ground floor of the house, with the projection screen and the set of decorated chairs. The footbridge can be used as a stage, and the chairs can be moved around so the setting can be adapted to contemporary plays and concerts. Lectures can even be given from the balcony towards the street.
Design: Collective Etc.
Location: Rue Saint Malo, Brest, France
Collaborators: City of Brest and “Vivre la rue”, local association