HJØRRING – Vendsyssel Theatre is already famous as ‘Denmark’s first newly-built theatre in over a century (outside of Copenhagen). Inherently, the occasion required a dynamic and stimulating approach. Danish architect Schmidt Hammer Lassen proposed a design comprising a composition of rectangular blocks. The physical independence of the inhabitable volumes creates circulation space which forms the basis of the project’s main objective; the theatre as an immersive cultural experience.
Externally, the cubic bodies create an imposing impact. During the day, the Corten steel cladding corresponds with the aesthetic of the surroundings; at night, elevations of LED-backed frosted glass are illuminated in fluorescent colour. The two opposing materials are indicative of the theatre’s interior approach, in which the two usually-separated users (the performer and the spectator) are brought together through the openness of the architect’s spatial planning.
The theme of ‘inclusiveness’ is dominant through both physical and visual transparency. Somewhere between the music hall, the ‘black box’ room, the 430-seat main theatre and the backstage programme, the architect breaks down the barrier of social conventionality.
‘The approach to the building’s design has been a pragmatic view of culture as an opportunity and experience for all,’ the architect comments. ‘Boundaries between publicly accessible areas and the more traditional theatre functions are blurred.’ Perhaps visitors can’t quite venture anywhere and everywhere but there is certainly an ‘access all areas’ atmosphere which, in turn, encourages curiosity and an intimacy that isn’t just reserved for the stage.
Conversely, performers can look out over the public plaza from their top-level backstage lounge and the main stage itself is barely separated from the audience seating. ‘We’ve designed emphasis on the interaction between artists and spectators,’ continues founding partner John Foldberg Lassen. ‘All the major halls can be opened to the foyer and the use of glass and windows in different rooms creates visual connection.
Plan – Level 0
1. Main Hall / 2. 'Black Box' / 3. Music Hall / 4. Rehearsal Space / 5. Workshop / 6. Dressing Room / 7. Foyer / 8. Cafe / 9. Reception / 10. Backstage