Located in Haarlem’s historic city centre, the Toneelschuur is a leading venue for theatre, dance and film. Adopting a similar experimental approach to that it takes to its programme, Toneelschuur commissioned Joost Swarte – graphic designer and cartoonist – to design its new home. Mecanoo worked closely with Swarte to develop his ideas into a building design.
Critical considerations for the functioning of a theatre building include the flow of visitors, the technical aspects and the movement of sets. Strict regulations govern the loading and unloading of sets to limit disturbance for surrounding residents. In response to this logistics issue, technical facilities are organised in a spine through the building.
Theatres, foyer, café and loading dock are located on both sides of the spine. On the ground floor, the theatres and café are directly accessible from the spacious foyer. With its slanted facade of glass, the foyer becomes an extension of the street.
The theatre blends into the finely grained urban fabric. Variations in height and form, and the use of glass, brick, stucco, timber and copper, provide each building element with its own expression and character. The office spaces of the Toneelschuur are housed in several historic buildings that are integrated with the new complex.