Theatre Agora, Netherlands




Architects: UNStudio in collaboration with B + M, Den Haag
Location: Lelystad, The Netherlands
Project year: 2005-2007

he Agora Theatre is an extremely colourful, determinedly upbeat place. The building is part of the masterplan for Lelystad by Adriaan Geuze, which aims to revitalize the pragmatic, sober town centre. The theatre responds to the ongoing mission of reviving and recovering the post-war Dutch new towns by focusing on the archetypal function of a theatre: that of creating a world of artifice and enchantment. Both inside and outside walls are faceted to reconstruct the kaleidoscopic experience of the world of the stage, where you can never be sure of what is real and what is not. In the Agora theatre drama and performance are not restricted to the stage and to the evening, but are extended to the urban experience and to daytime.

The typology of the theatre is fascinating in itself, but Ben van Berkel, who has a special interest in how buildings communicate with people, aims to exploit the performance element of the theatre and of architecture in general far beyond its conventional functioning. As he recently stated: “The product of architecture can at least partly be understood as an endless live performance. As the architectural project transforms, becomes abstracted, concentrated and expanded, becomes diverse and evermore scaleless, all of this happens in interaction with a massive, live audience. Today, more than ever, we feel that the specificity of architecture is not itself contained in any aspect of the object. The true nature of architecture is found in the interaction between the architect, the object and the public. The generative, proliferating, unfolding effect of the architectural project continues beyond its development in the design studio in its subsequent public use.”


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