I’ve been working at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for approximately five years now, and yet the Tanghalang Pambansa (CCP Main Building), where our office is located, still surprises me.
As I did research and interviews for an article, I learned so many interesting things about the building that prove why the center is an architectural treasure.
For example, did you know that the proscenium of the CCP Main Theater is as high as a two-storey building? This explained how National Artist Salvador Bernal was able to design and create massive sets for various productions and still able to hide them from the audience when the scenes needed to be changed.
When the center was consulting some sound engineers for the rehabilitation of the sound system and acoustics of the Main Stage, the group was amazed by its quality. They immediately recognized the work of Leroy Beranek who was known to them as the Father of Acoustics.
We often marvel at the brutalism architecture designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin, showcasing reinforced concrete, the two-storey travertine block suspended by concave cantilevers on three sides, and/or the massively elevated podium where the building was built.
But we don’t talk about how well-planned the spaces inside the building are. Locsin built it with both the audience and the artists in mind. In theater, the experience of the audiences who are watching from the orchestra and balcony seats is equally important as the experience of the artists who are making the magic of live performances happening on stage.
While the architect gave much thought to the audience experience with comfortable seating arrangement and well-studied sightline, he also designed a well-planned space circulation backstage where the movements of the performers and theater crew unhindered.
The audience doesn’t usually see what’s happening backstage. It’s really a show on its own. To make things seamless, the space backstage has been optimized. The loading docks are located at the back of the building, flowing from the parking area straight to the main stage to make the delivery of theater seats and other equipment hassle-free.
On a few occasions where I get to explore the building, I feel like Alice in Wonderland exploring rabbit holes and secret doors.
When CCP administrator Teresa Rances was showing me around and explaining things, I thought I was in a labyrinth.
I’d never been to the cooling towers until she brought me there. She also mentioned an open-secret door on the way to Silangan Hall, supposedly leading to the fly system. I wouldn’t know if she didn’t point it out. It looks like just a wall panel to me.
Yes, I’m gushing over my workplace because it really is an amazing place. And why not?
I really hope the 53-year-old building will get its much-needed rehabilitation. No matter how much we hide them, the wear and tear really show.
During the CCP Institutional Presscon, Rances shared that the Administration Services Department (ASD) will execute a three-year rehabilitation plan of the Tanghalang Pambansa (CCP Main Building) from 2022 to 2024.
The renovation will start on the fourth floor, roof deck, and the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater), culminating within the upper and lower basements.
During the pandemic, the ASD has replaced the escalators, retrofitted the CCP Ramp, and changed the Cooling Tower.
A new air-conditioning system was installed. Changing the original 350-ton centralized air-conditioning system to 60-ton capacity units. This lowers the electric bill of the center because the engineers can just turn on few units when needed.
Beginning this year, the CCP Library and Archives will be relocated to the Design Center Building temporarily to make way for the impending renovation.
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For those who want to see the building but cannot come over physically to the CCP due to current quarantine protocols or geographic and logistical limitations, the CCP is offering a virtual building and theater tour package.
The CCP Guided Virtual Tour was developed to provide online art education and cultural content for everyone.
Launched last February during the Pasinaya 2022, the CCP virtual tours also address the changes on how people consume arts in the new normal and usher in a new way to bring visitors back to the Center.
A project of the CCP Venue Operations Division (under the Production and Exhibition Department), the interactive 360 and/or 180-degree guided virtual tour takes visitors inside the CCP theaters, spaces, and other facilities, including the newly-built Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (CCP Black Box Theater).
Facilitated via Zoom, visitors can see the interiors of the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater), with its famous stage tapestry “Genesis” based on an artwork of National Artist H.R. Ocampo. You can also head to the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) and the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater). Virtual visitors can also take a glimpse behind the stage.
The 30-to-45-minute tour utilized high resolution photography, allowing a real on-site experience as if the visitors are walking through every corner of the artistic spaces with us.
Over 2916 photos, with 489 panoramas and 8 aerial shots were used to build a digital simulation of the actual physical spaces; creating an immersive virtual environment.
The guided tour is interactive allowing tour guests to ask questions and further explore the featured spaces through the assigned tour guide. It has embedded videos of the Visual Arts & Museum Division’s CCP Cultural Cache Online episodes and audio descriptions of the CCP visual arts collection displayed across various areas of the building.
For tour inquiries email us at email@example.com, call at 8833-2125 or 8832-1125 loc. 1412/1413.
To take a sneak peek of the CCP virtual guided tour, watch here: https://www.facebook.com/culturalcenterofthephilippines/videos/973841733504657.