Agora Theatre and Congress Centre in Lelystad

The Dutch province of Flevoland occupies an area that only 60 years ago formed part of the Zuider Zee. Large sections of this bay in the North Sea have been drained, and many new towns have been created on the reclaimed land, including Lelystad in 1967; but one has come nowhere near achieving the target population of 120,000 defined at that time. Large areas in the centre of Lelystad remain undeveloped, and in this rather desolate environment, the new Agora Theatre was built as the first stage of an extensive revitalization programme, based on a master plan by West 8. The clear cubic forms of the 19-metre-high fly tower and the two auditoriums are concealed beneath a prismatically folded metal skin. ­Different shades of orange heighten the effect of light refraction, while openings are mysteriously veiled by a layer of perforated metal sheeting (see Detail 12/2007). Between the two halls, the foyer is designed as a dynamic, winding space that tapers upwards to a central rooflight. The various spatial qualities are accentuated by bright colours: the foyer gleams in a fresh pink, while the large hall glows with red plush. The rectangular small hall has the neutral form of a multifunctional black-box theatre; and the 350 m2 conference area can be divided into three separate halls. The positions of the individual wall panels were optimized in a simulation program, so that despite the different spatial acoustics required for various events, a balanced sound quality is guaranteed for every seat. Adjustable reflector surfaces were installed only in the stage space, the generous dimensions of which are necessary to accommodate big productions. Since the orchestra pit can be adjusted in height, it can also be used as a stage area in front of the curtains during daytime congresses, so that scenery for evening theatre performances can be left in place. The scope that exists for combining all halls and foyers into a single area 2,100 m2 in size means that the complex can stage events for audiences of up to 1,800 persons. The building now attracts congresses from all over the Netherlands with up to 60,000 participants a year – in addition to the 150 performances given in the theatre from October to May.
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