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Theatre De Kampanje, Den Helder (Netherlands)

Theatre ‘The Kampanje’ is the new cultural centre of Den Helder, located in the city’s former Navy Yard ‘Willemsoord’. The project transformed a collection or ‘ensemble’ of maritime buildings, which have been inaccessible for over 170 years into an attractive area that gives a new public importance to the former naval base. The programme was carefully integrated in the existing buildings and introduced new public functions such as a concert hall, flexible performance spaces, an art centre, offices and a restaurant. Inspiration for the design is drawn from the identity and character of the historic buildings, of structures, craft, public space, docks and water. In order to maintain the unique character of the interior and exterior spaces, the design is modestly restrained, with careful consideration for any adaptations. To ensure the spatial experience of the majestic historic halls, we designed a glass auditorium which allows visitors to experience the historical details as well as the theatre performance. The transparency is in stark contrast to the introvert nature of the historical buildings. The strength of the intervention lies in the precision of the restoration, combined with the radical nature of the additions. Despite the contrast, the auditorium settled in naturally within the complex with the use of glass creating long vistas across the hall and allowing people to see and be seen. This element is part of the tradition of the theatre, where the social aspect is often just as important as the performance itself.

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