If nature is the master of symmetry, then sometimes, unnatural can be good
Symmetrical, simple geometric shapes generally gain my interest before those that throw geometry askance. Yet organic shapes like the Theater Lelystad in the Netherlands make me eat those words.
The exteriors are like an orange warped by that famous Dutchman, MC Escher. The interiors are like a pomegranate he might have experimented with. Its glorious red hues explode, along with its ceiling that makes me think of gift paper unwrapped from a package. The organicism it lends to the museum’s ceilings excites the heart.
Another part that works for me is the plan’s reveal of its functions. The museum space isn’t merely exaggerated forms and dynamic plays upon colour. Instead, the ability to clearly envisage the corridor beside the balcony from even the downstairs seats in the theatre rooms gives a clear sense of dimension, of controlled space. This shows that the designers at Amsterdam-based UN Studio appreciate the project’s purpose beyond egregious whimsy.
They go a step further, preventing us from overwhelm via various areas that provide natural sunlight. While the sunlight does seemingly enter from the heights of the sky itself, at least the natural element counterbalances the great spectacle of the interiors.
The theatre design has 925 seats overall between a large and a small theatre hall, and a volume of 30,000 sq-m. It will host exhibitions of various stage acts and media forms. Containing two theatre halls, a multifunctional space, restaurant, and bar, it’s designed to be used even during times there are no live performances.
The clustering of cultural and social activities in this new quarter will give Lelystad an outspoken cultural face, according to the firm.
It resides on a site slightly more than 2,900 sq-m and is part of the city of Lelystad’s masterplan. From a distance the theatre’s towers mark one of the highest points in town. I dig that, especially since churches and political centres are places traditionally granted such powerful positions. Views of nearby greens were carefully cultivated for perusal from the inside of the centre as well.
From its fruity skin to its predetermined views from afar, the UN Studio’s Theater Lelystad is one place I’d check out if in the Netherlands. After all, I think a lot of things in that country would have me enjoying life slightly asymmetrically.