For the competition for the Dance and Music Center The Hague, Powerhouse Company joined forces with RAU architects, one of Europe’s sustainable architecture pioneers.
After the first round of the competition, three offices were selected for a final showdown – RAU/Powerhouse Company, Zaha Hadid and Neutelings Riedijk Architects, who finally won.
The challenge of the DMC project was to make a highly complex programme work in a simple way, while at the same time making the building energy-efficient. Both of these goals were achieved, and the resulting building adds a lively new landmark to the cityscape of The Hague.
The idea behind the new DMC is to bring four performing arts institutes together, in order to stimulate synergy between them. A sophisticated spatial solution was therefore needed to support interaction between the four different companies – a modern dance troupe, a chamber orchestra, a conservatory and a dance theatre – while also providing for their individual needs.
Our design was inspired by the surrounding urban setting and by the programme, which combined a public, performative function (both as arts performance centre and as city landmark) with a private, behind-the-scenes one (administration and rehearsals).
We decided to reflect this dual function by creating a building in two parts. A fairly functional private ‘backbone’ relates to the surrounding buildings, while enclosing a wooden ‘heart ‘ that makes a lush open gesture towards the square.
The building can be read as two distinct elements. The white, private and functional section forms a spatial frame that, as a hollowed mass, creates a large yet contained void. Within this space, fluid volumes in wood overlap and interact together to create a continuous and free-flowing vertical space that seems to spill out spontaneously into the city.
Two ‘walls’ and a ‘roof’ form the covered yet open urban block. The back ‘wall’ contains preparation and supporting spaces within typical office floors. All the spaces needing exceptional height, such as the rehearsal and dance studios, are located in the side ‘wall’. The ‘roof’ houses the conservatory and the library.
The challenge of the DMC project was to make a highly complex programme work in a simple way
Within this rational volume, the foyers and auditoriums flow into a continuous, cascading public space. The square extends far into the building as an atrium, while the curved balconies offer spectacular views over the city and from one foyer to another.
Ranging from the rational logistics of the frame to the playfulness of the atrium, the building is geared toward maximum performance: both from an operational point of view as a building for performing arts, and from an urban point of view as a monument and a public space.
At Powerhouse Company, collaboration is close to our hearts. After all, we work successfully from two different countries – ‘working apart together’, as we call it. We see architecture as the result of exchanging ideas, not as the production of a lone genius. We collaborate with individuals and offices on a regular basis.
In the case of DMC, the collaboration was an intense meeting of two different areas of expertise: Powerhouse Company produced the design and representation of the building, while RAU brought its expertise on sustainability to the project.