Before starting the firm, Steven Ehrlich designed this project while teaching at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria. Integrating indigenous forms and materials with an innovative site plan, the Ahmadu Bello University Theatre is a flexible art facility used for performances and drama workshops. Steven Ehrlich looked for inspiration from the ancient Hausa cities of northern Nigeria with their mud-walled compound houses, and devised a theatre plan that echoes this traditional cloistered configuration.
The theater incorporates four circular thatched huts, linked by compound walls that are positioned to create a circular central performance area. This arrangement allows for a variety of configurations, from the traditional proscenium stage to theatre-in-the-round.
The huts provide flexibility and serve as audience seating, secondary performance spaces and individual studio workshops.
A domed mud-walled square room, or soro, anchors the south end of the facility and serves as the theatre entrance. A second soro, at the opposite end of the compound, houses back-stage functions. Both of these square volumes are detailed with traditional bas-relief ornamentation.