Emmen Theatre and Zoo Entrance

Henning Larsen Architects

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Henning Larsen Architects is an international architecture company with strong Scandinavian roots.

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Henning Larsen Architects and Dutch Van den Berg Groep have won first prize in an international competition for a 16,000 m2 theatre building that will also comprise the entrance to the zoological park in Emmen, the Netherlands.

Emmen Theatre and Zoo is a unique cultural building that brings together culture and nature. The building will constitute the entrance to a large zoological park of 10 hectares and comprises two main stages with a capacity of 1,150 people in total, an additional stage, exhibition and conference facilities.

The building will be a large theatre in itself. Viewed from the city, it opens up as a magic window towards the natural wildlife in the zoo – while the city is staged as a large urban universe viewed from the zoo.

Emmen Theatre and Zoo incorporates the surrounding outdoor spaces in a unifying scenography: The large new urban square; the landscape element, introducing the zoological park; the roof landscape, providing visitors with the opportunity to take a break from the noise and activity of the city.

The building design as a large stage structure allows the theatre to stage many different activities. The walls can be moved, and it is possible to open up the small stages and thus create new outdoor stages.

The integration of daylight, geometry and flexibility in the building reduces the energy consumption without use of technology. The design is energy-efficient in itself and forms an important part of the sustainability concept of the building.

The design ensures a good indoor climate and a comfortable outdoor climate on the urban square under the roof. The large overhangs of the east and west facades protect the square from the sun and rain. Forming part of the frame structure, the remaining facades are solid and feature large windows to the north and small openings to the south. Plenty of overhead lights in the roof provide the various foyers and halls with ample daylight.

Emmen Theatre is a compact volume. The flexible design allows for the sizes of the various rooms to be adjusted as needed and reduces the energy consumption for heating or cooling. The large foyer and meeting space serves as a buffer for natural ventilation.

The roof landscape of the theatre plays an important role in terms of reducing energy costs. The collection of rainwater cools down the entire structure through the concrete. At the same time, the roof collects water for watering the roof garden and for filling up the small canals and lakes, which – as small water falls – fall from the roof into the fountain in front of the building.

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Henning Larsen Architects
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