Neubau Theater in Sundsvall, Schweden

The Arche - A steamship for culture and arts

Urban composition
The theatre is the urban topic of Sundvall! Thus, in our project we suggest that the new structure is orientated towards the town’s main road – the Esplanade. As huge public building the theatre will be situated in the expansion area between the newly arranged urban edge (the future expansion of “Stone Town”) and the Selångerån riverside. Instead of the originally intended buildings directly at the riverside in the eastern part of Esplanade, we propose to give room for a generously proportioned, leafy square in front of the theatre. As a substitute, the property to the west of “Kulturmagasinet“ could be offered to the investor for constructing. From an urbanistic point of view we see the former magazine “Kulturmagasinet“ as traditional part of “Stone Town”. In contrast, the new building with its complex uses requires a completely different and innovative architecture. Both structures together as a centre for culture and arts will have direct access from the town through the urban corridor in continuation with the square in front of the theatre and the driveway for taxis. Carpark for individual traffic as well as the new bus station and services will be located in the east between the new E4-trace and the new building. Delivery activities for the theatre are to be located in this part, too. From both directions (the eastern carpark and bus station as well as the western square) a ramp line guides visitors to the centre’s entrance pavilion. At sunny days ramps offer the possibility to get used as extended foyer.

Building composition
From south to north, the theatre building is composed of three elements: foyer component, stage area with three auditoria and plant construction with artists’ cloakrooms, administration offices and workshops. The great auditorium as architectural and spatial point of culmination is orientated towards the forecourt in the west of the building. Adjoining in eastern direction the two other auditoria are arranged in a linear way. In case of a ball night or other big events all the three auditoria and the foyer zone can be combined into a huge representative hall. Under the main auditorium and the two lateral auditoria there are situated stages for rehearsal and experimental theatre.

Design and material
Since the new theatre is directly situated along a river we were inspired by images of ships and fishes. Consequently, the developed design for the building clearly reminds to marine forms. This association becomes reinforced with the help of the theatre’s outriggers (ramps) and stairways as well as the use of specific materials. The functional structuring into three elements goes also along with the architectural design:

– The foyer component gets a casing made of a waved glass wall, which allows a view to the town’s buildings and lights. Furthermore, it shall generate room for promotion and thus, stimulate the appetite for theatre. For the foyer’s ground floor we propose terrazzo as covering material.

– The stage area with its tower shall be covered with imbricate, polychromatic panels made of stainless steel. During day time such a glittering surface creates high visibility and distant effects over the town’s area. In the dark, similar effects can be reached by the use of appropriate illumination, amongst others with the help of water basins, too. The two inclined fronts in the eastern and western part provide the opportunity to become projection areas for events’ advertising. For ground floors within the spectators’ area we propose wooden parquet, for the stages wooden floorboards.

– The plant construction is a massively compact building structure with a perforated facade. External surface can be designed as stony skin, for example made of (natural stone) bricks, concrete or as plastered facade.