Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Toneelschuur in Haarlem, The Netherlands by Mecanoo Architects
November 25th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Mecanoo Architects
The ‘Toneelschuur’ in Haarlem is a trend-setting firm for the Dutch theatre, dance and movie industries. Each year prominent international theatre and modern dance companies perform in the two theatre halls. The latest movies can be seen in the cinema. Commissioned by the Toneelschuur, cartoonist Joost Swarte made a sketch design for ‘a new home for the Toneelschuur’. This sketch design was a study of the possibilities for moving the theatre to a new location in the intricate fabric of the historical centre of Haarlem. In the design the different functions of the theatre complex are located in different building parts. The new building is dominated by an inclined glass front. This glass wall separates the building from the city, simultaneously creating a mutual connection. Mecanoo developed the sketch design for the new Toneelschuur in collaboration with Joost Swarte.
In order to function smoothly, the Toneelschuur requires practical solutions for the operations of the theatre and the handling of crowds. Loading and unloading before and after performances is also crucial; strict regulations are in place to limit inconvenience for the district. All building parts, in which the different functions are housed, are physically connected to the ‘technical slice’. This slice is the backbone of the building where all technical services are located. The two theatre halls, the two movie theatres, the refreshment room, the theatre bar and the garage are situated on both sides of the technical slice.
Heart of the building
The offices are situated in several existing buildings surrounding the theatre but visually integrated with the complex. The wide foyer on the ground floor forms the heart of the building. The sloping glass façade of the foyer connects the inside and outside spaces with each other, pulling the street into the theatre. The foyer not only provides the entrance to the halls, but also to the directly visible theatre bar.
The different building parts each have their own character through the use of different materials, such as glass, brick, plaster, wood, concrete panels, zinc and copper, and in the variation of height and form. The theatre connects in size and scale to the adjacent concert building. By integrating the existing buildings, the Toneelschuur nestles itself naturally in the delicate, small-scale surrounding urban structure.
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