New Neumarkt Theatre
- by Axel Burkhard
The new Neumarkt Theater is located in a very particular location, in Zürich, amongst many differing urban functions. This theater serves as the of the end of the «old city» fabric, emphasizing the transition between two distinct areas. It opens a perspective to the new «Kunsthaus», contains a meeting point between several urban axes and reactivates a historical park.
The morphological genesis of the project results from this urban analysis and an intention to improve and highlight the existing qualities of the context. This urban situation needs a strong architectural answer, which is materialized through the rising of the new Neumartk Theater, a vertical volume, added to a simple rectangle. This gesture embodies the intention to leverage an urban inflexion point. The building remains as thin as possible, to enable the dense context to breathe.
The theater hall is divided in two parts, radically different, matching the shape of the building. The vertical part includes an extroverted «lightbox» hall opening on the city, expressing the beauty of the old town, turning into a «lantern» at night. The other one is located in the horizontal element of the volume, introverted, used as a flexible «blackbox» answering the modern interpretation of an ideal performative space.
These two main spaces, one horizontal, one vertical, are connected through a very clear core layer including all the required secondary functions. They define the architectural concept and set the rules of an alternate experience of horizontal and vertical spaces.
The main entrance is located to the south, by the park, in order to celebrate the leafy atmosphere, into a “city-center” project. The entrance area is a very horizontal space and includes a sculptural spiral stair leading to the Foyer on the first level. This ascension allows the visitor to transit to a very vertical space, with a loggia situation opening onto the park. The main theater hall is located on the first level.
The north end of the building includes a «Café» on the ground floor and all the rooms related to the artistic theatre in the upper levels, with direct access to the main performative hall on the first floor. The ground floor area under the hall includes storage for costumes and apparels, as well as workshops, exposing themselves to the street, being part of the urban theatricality.
Material and atmosphere
Located in a noble middle age architectural situation, the project aims to offer a reinterpretation of this quality in a modern minimalist way.
The interior visualizations transport this noble atmosphere through mineral materials and play with a textured concrete, giving character to a clean and clear space. The layered aspect of the project is readable through the visible stages of concrete construction, day-joints and slight changes in treatment. All frames and details are built in «goldish» aluminum, which tones with the color of concrete and intentionally emphasizes the noble aspect of the spaces.
Structure and facade
The use of concrete beams allow the absence of columns, creating clean and opened spaces, with straight openings. The upper hall is held by a metallic glazed structure.
The treatment of the exterior skin is inspired by a curtain, aiming to draw a playful facade, connected to the purpose of the building itself. The curved precast concrete elements are fixed to the structural interior concrete walls. This specific treatment aims to give the building its own identity, expressing an artificial gesture and bringing a twist in a very clear strategy.
The project as a whole is developed from a clear concept and a logical organization. It allows the rational functioning of a theater while expressing the richness of the context.
The building aims to highlight the peculiarities of that area, as well as exposing itself in a theatrical way, as a fusion between observer and actor.
architect: Axel Burkhard | client: ETH Zürich | status: Academic Project | location: Zürich, Switzerland (47.3726, 8.544906) | climate: Temperate, Oceanic / maritime | materials: concrete, glass | environments: Urban, Park | visualizer: Studio | scale: 2.500 m2 medium | types: cultural, theater | views: 3.329