Dutch architecture firm UNStudio just completed work on the gorgeous Theatre de Stoep in the Dutch town of Spijkeniss. The 5,800-square-meter theater and cultural center features a dramatic fluid shape with a white exterior dotted with undulating rows of glowing LED-lit purple spheres. The building's dramatic swooping shape serves two purposes: first, the form is a nod to the building's theatrical nature, and secondly, the shape was created to avoid disturbing natural wind flow to the nearby Nooitgedacht, a mid-19th-century windmill.
Inside, the expansive theater comprises two auditoriums, one that accommodates up to 650 visitors and a smaller hall that seats up to 200. Additionally, the building has several interconnected foyers which lead to the restaurant and artist’s café, VIP lounge, various dressing rooms, multi-use rooms and administrative offices. A large eye-catching vertical foyer cuts through the middle of the structure to provide visitors with a dramatic vantage point from various levels. Bright colors throughout the interior give the common spaces a vibrant atmosphere enhanced by the clerestory windows, which allow for optimal natural light.
Since the theater was designed to accommodate a variety of performances such as theatrical plays, opera, cabaret, and musicals, a superior acoustic system was paramount to the design. Along with the latest in acoustic software, the building was equipped with specialized ceiling elements that can be lowered and angled to adjust volume levels. In addition, acoustic wall panels were installed to reflect and improve the sound quality for every seat in the auditorium.
UN Studio founder Ben van Berkel explains the importance the project’s design for theater lovers: “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 the strange, elusive energy between audience and performer, the community forged together and the momentary collaboration necessitated by the live event.”
Photography by Peter Guenze, Jan Paul Mioulet and Peter de Jong