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Dutch theatre unveiled with adjustable ceiling for concerts

The town of Spijkenisse in southwest Holland is now home to a new theatre designed by Ben van Berkel, UNStudio’s founding architect. The Theatre de Stoep is designed to consider the two contrasting facets of the theatre archetype, as a place of wonder and illusion at the same time as being a place of community and social interaction.

The theatre boasts progressive shapes and smooth curves typical of UNStudio’s work. Inside, Van Berkel used the voluminous foyer – with no columns, it is unobstructed throughout – and sculptural staircase to create a space where people can gather and socialise. “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,” he said.

The 5,800sq m (62,430sq ft) venue features a main 650-seat auditorium, with a smaller theatre space for 200 audience members. The ceiling has been engineered to be moved to different heights and angles, so it can be arranged to accommodate the acoustic needs of any show. At Theatre de Stoep, there is also a café, a restaurant and an artists’ cafe, dressing rooms and office space under the theatre roof.

Photo by Peter Guenzel

UNStudio was able to keep costs low thanks to its capabilities in Design Information Modelling and Building information modelling methodologies, which can digitally model and test structures before the construction phase begins.

Spijkenisse has been undergoing a period of invigoration as far as its cultural scene goes, and the Theatre de Stoep will be an important building for the local community. For Van Berkel, the theatre itself brings people together.

“In contrast to today’s 'mediatised' culture, theatre offers the participatory experience of the live event,” he said. “The ‘magic of live theatre’ is understood as the strange, elusive energy between audience and performer, the community forged together and the momentary collaboration necessitated by the live event.”

The town of Spijkenisse in southwest Holland is now home to a new theatre designed by Ben van Berkel, UNStudio’s founding architect. The Theatre de Stoep is designed to consider the two contrasting facets of the theatre archetype, as a place of wonder and illusion at the same time as being a place of community and social interaction. The theatre boasts progressive shapes and smooth curves typical of UNStudio’s work.
VAT,AAC,ARC,DES,CLD
Glimpses of purple can be seen through perforations in the outer white panels of the facade of the Theatre de Stoep in Spijkenisse, the Netherlands / Jan Paul Mioulet
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Company profile: Alliance Leisure Services Ltd
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