UNStudio’s design for Theatre responds to the current cultural invigoration of the city by merging 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 theatre is therefore designed with a dual emphasis on the chimeric nature of the world of the stage and the social aspects of the theatre experience.
Theatre de Stoep is designed to fortify and inspire this liveliness, providing at one and the same time a place of performance, of social gathering and of experiencing contrasting realities: the world of the other, of fabrication, of expression and display, but simultaneously the very real sentient experience of ourselves as spectators within these worlds.
In the design of the 5,800 m2 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.
Theatre de Stoep hosts a wide variety of performance types, including plays, opera, cabaret, musicals, concerts, youth theatre and dance performances. As such, versatility in the acoustic properties of the theatre spaces is paramount. The recent rapid development of the software used to control acoustics made it possible to engineer and optimise 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.
Above the glazed lower levels of the facade, the upper portion comprises two layers of aluminium, Glimpses of the purple coloured back layer can be seen through circular perforations in the outer white panels, with LED lights fitted between the two facade layers to light the building in the evenings.
Photo credits: Jan Paul Mioulet, Peter Guenzel, Peter de Jong.