The Agora Theatre

The outer envelope of the Theatre Agora is made of flat steel panels, corrugated aluminium, and aluminium mesh painted orange and yellow. Lelystad’s new revitalised city hub, conceived by Adriaan Gauze of urban design firm West 8, has been designed to project an air of change, activity and enthusiasm, and the Municipality of Lelystad (Gemeente Lelystad) commissioned the Theatre Agora on the basis that it represented these new urban ideals.

“The Theatre Agora is intended to be a place for movement, play and enchantment.” Principal architects for the Theatre, Ben van Berkel and Gerard Loozekoot and their team from Dutch architecture firm UNStudio, achieved this by integrating the concept of the theatre as a place for movement, play and enchantment into the structure itself – depicted through striking, jagged lines, innovative lighting and thought-provoking colours. Designed in March 2004 and completed in March 2007, the theatre is visible from and in walking distance from the city’s train station.

Executive architects B+M from the Netherlands, collaborated on the construction of the 30,000m³ and 7,000m² building, which consists of two theatres, dressing rooms, a number of interlinked and separated foyers, a large vertical entrance foyer, a café and a restaurant, and a stage tower. The outer envelope is made of flat steel panels, corrugated aluminium, and aluminium mesh painted orange and yellow, using materials provided by Hafkon (aluminium cladding) and Van Dool Geveltechniek (façades).

The interior walls of the large theatre are red, lined with acoustic panelling of a concave / convex formation in various shapes and colours, which serves not only as a visual interest but was found by Dutch acoustics designers DMGR to also benefit the sound in the auditorium. The entrance foyer extends vertically over two levels with a view through the sloping glass window both out to the city and the sky. “The interior walls and external façade were created to give a kaleidoscopic impression.” Both the interior walls of the foyer and theatres and the external façade were created to give a kaleidoscopic impression – one of looking out and into an ever-changing world. As such, the building protrudes in various directions, with all façades having sharp angles and jutting planes, which are covered by steel plates and glass layered in shades of orange and yellow.

Lighting designers Arup of Amsterdam focused on the themes of transition, movement and metamorphosis in their lighting design. On the external walls, lights are built into the façade embalming the building in a warm glow at night time. During the day, the triangular skylights allow natural light into the foyer. In the hour leading up to performances, the artificial lighting in the foyer is pale yellow, which changes shortly to an intense coloured light shortly before the act begins.