To see and be seen
theatre with a double bottom
The Regentes Theatre, The Hague
The Nationaal Toneel (National Theatre) has asked our advice about the possibilities to convert an old swimming pool into a new theatre with all associated facilities within the overall plan of colleague Bullhorst. After a visit and an afternoon at the drawing board we came to the conclusion that it would indeed be possible to make a wonderful theatre with different atmospheres. We had not yet talked about the costs. The project had to be realised in a short period of time, but that is almost always the case with theatre people. The concept is very simple: We would place a new floor on the old swimming pool, which functions as theatre floor. On the short side there is a new foyer, which is connected to the theatre café that is situated on a slightly lower level. We have intentionally not used the inclining floor of the swimming pool as amphitheatre as this would have been too flexible. Besides, it would have been illogical with regard to the location of the foyer.
The chosen concept is both simple and logical. We considered it important to produce a theatre with the right things in the right places, and it had to be clear that it was an old swimming pool. By closing the pool, space was created underneath the stage. This space is now utilized. What once used to be accessible only to experienced divers is now accessible to everybody. And it is still unmistakably a swimming pool.
These kinds of basic principles have been important for the development of this theatre. In addition, the space underneath the swimming pool offers excellent possibilities for the performers. The double bottom is used during theatre productions.
During the development we always looked for a simple and yet efficient completion. The budget was limited and the temporary nature was allowed to be noticeable. Natural wood panelling is therefore prevalent, which is both effective for the new function and in keeping with the rest of the theatre without spoiling the atmosphere.