Refurbishment of the Teatrinho


2009 - 2013


Portugal, Peso da Régua




It was, as was Régua, born in 1912 and was, in its glory days, an Italianate theatre, used by an amateur company for promoting lyrical music, inviting professional singers and putting on their own productions. Subsequently, it became a cinema, adapting its form and contents to the new times and the new technologies. This new use also came to an end. Today, it is no longer fit to receive patrons; such is the state of dilapidation that it has been allowed to reach.

Eight years ago, I was invited to co-ordinate the projects to re-furbish the building and bring it up to current standards. The intention was that it could be used as a small theatre, for small productions, but also as a conference room and as a backup to “Armazém 45”, which is located nearby and finally, also as an exhibition space for Port and Douro Wines.

I was then asked to stop and wait until further decisions were taken.
Eight years later I’m back working on the project.
The project is no longer a sole venture of IVDP – Instituto do Vinho do Douro e do Porto, but has become a joint venture with the Municipality and with the Douro Museum.

In the meantime, the Municipality of Peso da Régua has purchased an adjoining ruined building to the south which has since been demolished. This new area will allow for expansion beyond the existing restricted space, as the original theatre is very small and hence the name the Little Theatre.
The optimism of the first brief has also changed. Now the requirement is for the least possible change and for a refurbishment that doesn’t interfere with the character that the Little Theatre still possesses and which remains in many people’s memories.
It is intended that the building should be brought up to the technical and safety standards that will allow it to be used by different types of public and for different types of activities.

The auditorium will be restored and the safety structures, which are currently compromised due the terrible condition of the facility, will be reinstated.
A better entrance will be provided, as the present one is completely destroyed and has not retained even the minimum quality that would have justified its restoration or re-construction.
The basement, which is to be improved, will accommodate the toilets.

Circulation spaces and air conditioning services will be included in the expansion of the building to the north. These will also give the building, which is currently exposed on its west side, a facade.

The extension on the south side will provide backstage areas and an entrance for the performers and technicians.
The volume and form of the Little Theatre will be reinstated, as if this were restoration work. But strictly speaking this won’t be restoration work, as there is nothing here to be restored. That which remains merely serves as a model for what we are planning to do.

It is intended that the new volumes of the extension, which embrace the existing building on either sides, will stand out from it by virtue of their finishes. Not only by contrasting with it, but also by means of hierarchy. The materials and colours of what’s existing are to be maintained. The new volume will be clad in timber sheeting.

After the works are completed, the collective memory will not notice the difference. Quite the opposite, as it will find a Little Theatre that will be able to use its grand name for another century.

More than making architecture, our intention is to pay restitution to History for the neglect and degradation that so many of the buildings of this kind are subject to.

Will this not also be Architecture?


Carlos Castanheira

+ -




Carlos Castanheira

Office in Portugal:

CC&CB – Architects, Lda.

Project Team:

Pedro Carvalho

Ricardo Porto Ferreira

Ricardo Serra

Diana Vasconcelos

Carolina Leite

Pedro Afonso

Isabel Carvalho

Tiago Vidal





Construction and Engineering Projects, Lda.



Engineering, Lda.



Engineering, Lda.


G E T –

Thermal Management System, Lda

Fire Safety:


Engineering and Security Systems, Lda.

Coordination and Supervision:

Technical cabinet from

C. M. do Peso da Régua

Construction Company:


Sociedade Industrial de Construções Flaviense, SA


© Carlos Castanheira