Rehabilitation of the National Theatre of Panama, a UNESCO World Heritage architectural jewel
- Client: Panama's Ministry of Education
- Date: 2016-2019
- Location: Panama City, Panamá
- Sector: Cities
- Subsector: Culture
- Invesment: 11,80 M€
The National Theatre of Panama, a masterpiece designed by architect Genaro Ruggieri, has stood as an emblem of Panamanian culture since its inauguration on 1 October 1908. The theatre holds the highest heritage protection as a Historical Monument of the Old Quarter of Panama and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. However, in 2015, the theatre was forced to close due to the deterioration of its infrastructure, paintings, and unique murals.
In response, the Ministry of Culture launched a refurbishment project to restore the theatre’s architectural and artistic features to its former glory. Today, the National Theatre of Panama has reopened its doors, ready to regain its status as a premier cultural venue in Central America as a result of the work of the Ayesa team.
Ayesa led the architectural refurbishment of the National Theatre of Panama, partnering with Panamanian architect Manuel Choy to bring the project to life. Artist Ángela Camargo was employed to carry out the artistic restoration work on the much-loved 20th-century frescoes by Roberto Lewis.
The project included waterproofing the roof slabs, restoring metal roofs, rehabilitating and reinforcing the existing structures, and replacing damaged structures. We also commissioned restoration work on the calicanto masonry, general finishes, flooring, ceilings, and partitions.
The team created new electrical, mechanical, and unique installations and refurbished the bathroom and dressing room areas. It was also necessary to replace the entire stage mechanics, lighting, sound, audio, and video systems.
The stalls, amphitheater boxes, and bleachers located in the central part of the theatre, with a capacity for 772 people, were also restored to their former glory.
On the whole, Ayesa has delivered a comprehensive restoration of a building declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The project involved restoring structural, scenic (related to the stage and performance areas), and pictorial (related to the artworks on the walls and ceilings) aspects of the building) elements. This made the intervention unique in Panama, because it was a comprehensive restoration of the entire building, addressing both its functional, structural, and artistic components.
The benefits of restoring the National Theatre of Panama to its former glory are numerous. Firstly, it preserves a cultural icon and Panamanian history, and iconic heritage landmark. Secondly, it provides a premier cultural venue for the people of Panama and tourists to enjoy a wide range of artistic performances. Thirdly, it promotes the local economy by attracting visitors to the área. Additionally, the restoration work enhances the safety and structural integrity of the building, ensuring that it can withstand the test of time for many years to come. Finally, the theatre continues to provide job opportunities for local employment and contributes to Panama culture’s overall growth and development.
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“This intervention in Panama City is a significant milestone for Ayesa’s consolidation in the rehabilitation and restoration of cultural buildings, not only in Panama but also in the broader Latin American region. With several successful projects under our belt in Spain, this marks our expansion into the theatrical building sector in Panama”
Director of the Building Division for Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America