The design for the station square in Haarlem has a strong connection with our design for the underground theater that lays beneath the square. The underground theater is almost as large as the whole square and interacts with the people above. While there's a strong connection between the theatre and the square and we used the same design principles, they can also be seen as two separated worlds. By discussing the square, we can imagine this design for any other squares where tourist, pedestrians, commuters and cyclists meet.

In our design the square should give the slow traffic direction to the city center, it should be an orientation point in the city, it should facilitate in staying for a while and the beautiful historical station should be visible again. We incorporated this principles in our design by adding an open theater, slightly sloping bicycle lanes and large open spaces to dwell.

Building underground is one of the best solutions when having to add a large theatre in the middle of the city. To acquire an insight in the experience of being and going underground one of the studies we did was in the environmental psychology. When designing an underground building the most important conclusions we made is the importance of orientation, the feeling of being safe and the continuous notion of time and the outside. Next to that the negative association the visitor has with being underground needs to be broken. Associations with dead, the cold and damp places and an uncomfortable dark feeling needs to be appointed before the visitor can enjoy the beautiful theatre.

The visitor needs to be aware of the going underground. The entrance is therefore designed with diminishing daylight and a roof that lowers in every step; this evokes an emotion. Curving lines guides the visitor with a comfortable staircase to a foyer divided in several floors and bathing in daylight. At this point the visitor is free of its old negative associations and realizes that being underground can be very comfortable. In the design of the theatre the visitor has a central role, the structure is clear and there's a focus on the spectacle of the foyer. click to go back to projects overview
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