Integrating indigenous forms and materials with an innovative site plan, the Ahmadu Bello University Theatre in Zaria, Nigeria 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 2,770 sf facility 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.