The early Greek architects knew what they were doing when they first created open-air theaters (the oldest of which was Dionysos Eleuthereus in Athens) as early as the 6th century BCE. They diverted from the traditional set-up of an elevated stage to one where the stage is at the lowest point with audience benches positioned in a fan-shaped arrangement, each level rising along a slope.
Modern architecture continues to acknowledge the genius of this design. Tiered seating is the favorite seating plan for cinemas, sports stadiums, auditoriums, and even in churches and schools. In fact, stadium seating riser systems provider Stadium Savers Ltd. says that tiered seating can “enhance the spectators viewing experience” while maximizing space and construction budgets.
No Obstructions to One’s Field of Vision
The tiered seating style allows audience members to see the action on the stage or field below with as little obstruction as possible. The higher each succeeding row is, the less likely that audience members will have something blocking their field of vision.
There are exceptions, however. If an audience member is taller or has a longer torso than the person sitting directly behind, or if the person in front leans too far forward, the one in the back may have a partially-blocked view of the performance below.
Additional Benefits: Acoustics and Space Efficiency
The stacked layout of tiered seating makes it possible to integrate more seats. This is especially true in classroom set-ups where each row of seats come with a table. The backrests of the seats are often flush with the front edge of the table for the succeeding row.
Along with sound-proofed surroundings and a fan-shaped seating plan, tiered seating can contribute to the overall acoustics of a cinema or auditorium. The sound carries well in such a design, and audience members will be able to hear, even while seated in the back row.
Overall, audiences can get a much better theater experience sitting in tiered seats than in flat or sloped seating plans.