Info & Images: Courtesy UNStudio
The small Dutch town of Spijkenisse celebrates the opening of its new cultural centre today. The Theatre de Stoep designed by Ben van Berkel of UNStudio…
Responding to the current cultural invigoration of the city, the design of the theatre merges the archetypal function of a theatre - that of creating a world of illusion and enchantment - with the specific requirements of a regional theatre and its requisite to cater to the varied needs of the local community.
The design of the 5,800 sq. m. building - a larger and a smaller theatrical space (with the main auditorium seating up to 650 guests and the smaller hall accommodating 200), several interlinked foyers, a grand café and a restaurant, an artist’s café, a VIP lounge, numerous dressing rooms, multifunctional rooms and offices are all brought together within one volume. The placement of the various internal volumes results in a building in the form of a flower, with a large, column-free central foyer forming the heart of the structure.
“The vertical foyer becomes a pivotal point in the social functioning of the theatre, a ‘stage’ for the visitors and a dynamic focal point surrounded by viewpoints on different levels,” informs Ben van Berkel. Furthermore, the foyer serves to organise way-finding and the linking of the different programmes within the building. From the main foyer, a sculptural stairway forms the binding element towards the entrances to the auditoria, while the handrail of the stairway seamlessly molds itself into functional surfaces and furniture elements.
Special attention has been given to the acoustics; especially given that the theatre proposes to host a wide variety of performance types, including plays, opera, cabaret, musicals, concerts, youth theatre and dance performances. The recent rapid development of the software used to control acoustics has made it possible to engineer and optimize the sound quality within the auditoria. Thus the ceiling elements can be lowered and angled to adjust volume levels when required, while the acoustic wall panels reflect and increase the quality of the sound for every seat in the auditorium.
Light and colour play an essential role in the experience of the theatre, not only in the auditoria and for productions, but also for setting the scene, the atmosphere and the mood in the public foyers. During the day, the lower glass portion of the facade enables daylight penetration directly from both the front of the theatre and from above, throwing daylight deep into the foyer and above the stairs leading to the auditoria. In the evening, a warm and inviting atmosphere is created through the use of both colour and artificial lighting.
Efficacy in building design and construction is maintained through implementation of and adherence to both, Design Information Management (DIM) and Building Information Management (BIM) systems in place.