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Location: the former music school at the Domsquare, Utrecht

dom theatre

Design: open air theatre, former Music school, Domplein, Utrecht
Commission: City Council Utrecht
Location: Dom square Utrecht
Year: 1993
Status: definite design, not realised 

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All an enclosed courtyart with a stunning view on the dom tower needs, is an open-air theatre. The location is also an interesting archeological site with hidden concrete remains of a roman castellum. apart from the functional design, these remains can be seen -enlarged- through a glass bowl filled with water… working like an enormous lens

The city of Utrecht is representative of the intertwining of old and new, of architectural remnants of the past combining modern city life. Especially the open space next to the 16th century dome's tower, empty because of a storm that destroyed the link with the cathedral, is haunted by an atmosphere of time travel. 
It is in accordance to this special character of the place, that the design proposal for an outdoor theatre for Music and Dance School Utrecht, is formulated. The inner courtyard of the school' building, with immediate sight of the dome tower, allows a look onto and into the ground where three major, temporal layers unfold in front of us. Traces of the former shores of the river Rhine are covered by the remains of a Roman Castellum, which are themselves covered by bunker-leftovers of the Second World War. 
As rich/complex as the history of this place, so aspires the open-air theatre to function in a complex way – by offering space for 250 visitors in the yet intimate space and by offering a design that allows fine acoustics and the possibility of 'playing' through showers of rain. While the built structure of the theatre literally rests on the archeological structures in the ground, the space around the podium is extended by a balustrade that itself carries a tent roof. This way, a close relation to the podium and the play is made possible while, at the same time, more space is created for both sitting and standing visitors. And those for whom this is not enough can take a glimpse into the ground through a sculptural glass bowl filled with water to see – enlarged through an enormous lens – the hidden forces of history at play. 

With special thanks to Madeleine van Lennep

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