Studio Akkerhuis‘ bamboo design for a mobile theater proposal off the Netherlands coast addresses the characteristics of the material in the construction of light, resistant, accessible and transportable structures.
The project, a compact space similar to a small amphitheater, allows reuse with different configurations in various places with its joints made up of ropes and screws.
From the architects. Since 2001, a local cultural association -Kunstklank-, organizes every two years a theatrical production on the beach at Noordwijk, a well known seaside resort near Leiden in the Netherlands. Up until now, they were mostly open-air performances, requiring little more than a stage and some improvised seating around it.
For this year’s performances, a covered structure was required, to protect against rain and wind, a structure that can be mounted and dismounted at various locations over the next five years. using natural materials and to be assembled almost entirely by volunteers.
This time, for the piece “Gestrand Verlangen”, a music-theatre production loosely based upon Henry Pur-cell’s -Dido & Aeneas-, the beach location is particularly appropriate: the configuration of the seating and the opening towards the shoreline have been fully integrated into the choreography of the piece.
The idea for the theatre was to create a compact space, somewhere between a small amphitheater, a Bedouin tent, a yurt and reminiscent of a nineteenth-century travelling circus. This has resulted in an intimate space for 250/300 people, with a diameter of only 20 meters. Any member of the public will therefore never be further away than 10 meters from the center of the stage. The public is seated on 21 tribunes, that can accommodate 22/24 people each. 3 of these are reserved for an orchestra of 14 musicians. The theatre is mobile, and be re-used in different configurations, with less or more tribunes.
Bamboo was chosen as the main building material: it is a naturally grown material, lightweight and strong, affordable and easy to replace. The entire construction, of both tribunes and cover, is assembled from singular bamboo elements, connected mainly by ropes for the tent structure, and bolts for the tribunes. The elements never surpass a length of 5.8 m (19 Ft), as to fit into a 20 Ft shipping container for storage. Each individual element can be carried by one person.
A total of nearly 5800 individual bamboo poles from 4 different species and diameters have been cut and assembled by a group of 50 volunteers in their spare time, over a period of 3 months. Only the foundations, groundworks, the sails and windscreens, the central crown and metal pieces and the cushions have been produced by professional manufacturers. The theatre, from initial ideas to completion, has been designed and mounted in a period of 7 months.
For its maiden use on this particular location, the groundworks required the creation of a 30m diameter mound between the dunes and the waterline, perfectly horizontal, on which 32 concrete foot plates, of 760 kilos each, guarantee that the structure will stay in place even with wind forces up to 8 Bft. First sketches were made in December 2016, and the actual construction on site in the first week of July 2017. After two weeks of performances, the structure has been dismantled and stored for its next use.
Architects: Studio Akkerhuis, Maurits van der Staay
Project Architects: Maurits van der Staay, Florian Bolle, Luca Salerno
Client: Kunstklank Noordwijk, Herma van Piekeren, Koos Samsom, Hugo van den Berg
Construction Management: Dennis Schneider, Sylvia van Stijn-Beukers, Florian Bolle, Luca Salerno
Engineers: Tentech Utrecht: Julia Schönwälder, Rogier Houtman, Harmen Werkman
Stage Design and Technical Equipment: Tom Verheijen, Eli van Hooff, Wessel Snoek
Metal Works: Hametec Montfoort: Hans Lekkerkerker
Cover sails, Windscreens and ties: Zeildoek Montfoort: Rikkert Hoogenboom
Groundworks on site: van der Putte, Noordwijk, van der Wiel, Noordwijk
Bamboo: Bamboo Import, Beverwijk: Melger Hulsebos, Stéphane Schröder
Cushions: Arc Marine, Lelystad: Roel Bennink