Democratic design: Den Bosch residents vote for UNStudio to design new theatre

by Kath Hudson | 22 Jul 2015

UNStudio have been chosen to design a new city centre theatre in Den Bosch, the Netherlands. The design competition involved the local residents voting for one of two finalists and UNStudio received 57 per cent of the vote, seeing off competition from Rotterdam studio Ector Hoogstad Architects.

The Theatre on the Parade will be located on the large and lively public square, which was an important consideration in the design: the floor of the public foyer runs level to the public square so the foyer becomes a natural extension of it. The facades of the public spaces are constructed from glass, so the theatre and public square seamlessly merge and visitors become part of the show.

During public events on the square, the doors of the café theatre can be opened and the internal sliding wall removed, connecting the small auditorium with the public square and leading people into the heart of the theatre.

The four volumes of the theatre frame the views to include the nearby St John’s Cathedral and the Parade Square. The volume housing the larger of the two auditoria is partially sunken below ground, ensuring the building remains low and the sightlines to the cathedral are maintained. The floor of the main auditorium is slightly recessed below ground level, which provides a natural noise buffer.

The design also aimed to capture the drama of the theatre by interrupting the alignments of the volumes. “Ideas surrounding sensation and cultural expression form the conceptual basis of the design,” said architect, Ben van Berkel.

“The massing of the building is simultaneously single and multiple: the shifting displacement of the volumes suggests separation and fragmentation, while moments of intersection fuse the volumes and result in an autonomous, single object within the urban fabric.”

Part of UNStudio's plans sees the design of a vertical foyer: a column-free central space and a main stairway which extends over the four levels. “The various levels of the vertical foyer can be utilised simultaneously for a variety of commercial functions,” said van Berkel. “This enables flexible programming for public and private events, shows and conferences. Such additional programming adds liveliness and versatility to the theatre building and extends its public function.”

The planning procedure will begin in the next couple of months. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017, with completion slated for 2020.

UNStudio have been chosen to design a new city centre theatre in Den Bosch, the Netherlands. The design competition involved the local residents voting for one of two finalists and UNStudio received 57 per cent of the vote, seeing off competition from Rotterdam studio Ector Hoogstad Architects. The Theatre on the Parade will be located on the large and lively public square, which was an important consideration in the design:
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The facades of the public spaces are constructed from glass, so the theatre and public square seamlessly merge
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