Opening today, the 5,800-square-metre Theatre de Stoep was designed by UNStudio to provide the Dutch town of Spijkenisse of a new cultural venue. 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.
Ben van Berkel: “In contrast to today’s mediatised culture, theatre offers the participatory experience of the live event, often appropriately referred to as ‘liveliness’: the ‘magic of live theatre’, understood as thestrange, elusive energy between audience and performer, the community forged together and the momentary collaboration necessitated by the live event.”
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.
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 thetheatre 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.