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D'haus ‒ Düsseldorf's theater opens to the city

The project reworks the foyer and public spaces as well as the interior layout, bringing new light to an icon of contemporary architecture

Ingenhoven Associates

Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf Ingenhoven
By Redazione The Plan -

Few yet precise intervention works, implemented in conjunction with the local historic conservation division, and paired with innovation to update the building and its systems to today's standards: the project for D'haus (Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Düsseldorf 's main theater) has also converted it into a contemporary architecture icon. This renovation by the German studio ingenhoven associates was in unison with that of the Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz square in front of the theater, reshaping layout and purpose, since the area now incorporates some of the city's most prominent cultural edifices.

D'haus was built between 1965 and 1970 to a design by the architect Bernard Pfau, and was a venue for famous actors and directors such as Marianne Hoppe, Gustav Gründgens, Elisabeth Bergner, Paula Wessely, Bernhard Minetti and Wolfgang Langhoff. Today the theater irradiates lightness, standing alongside the austere Dreischeibenhaus ‒ to form an exemplary grouping of German post-war architecture ‒ and the new Kö-Bogen II ‒ a construction with a generous green façade created more recently, again by ingenhoven associates.


Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus: careful renovation and conversion of an architectural icon

Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus - ingenhoven associates ©Hans-Georg Hesch, courtesy of ingenhoven associates

The existing roof and façade have been carefully conserved, while the public areas, lighting, fixtures and furnishings have been upgraded to today's technical standards and regulations. Only the two theater halls have remained intact, given that the foyer and entrances have also been reworked.

Due to a decision by the city authorities regarding traffic circulation, Pfau had to position the theater's main entrance on the building's city side in the 1960s, and not on the one facing the Hofgarten park. The outcome was an impression of closure towards the surrounding area. The changes by ingenhoven associates have removed the old ticket office and installed a double-glazed vestibule with broad video wall: these have opened up the space 360°, resolving a long-standing question. Clear glass replaces the bronze-tinted glazing that Pfau introduced, while a new round pavilion ‒ again made of glass ‒ now acts as the main ticket office, lighting up the entrance area facing the new Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz.

The façade renovation was a challenge in technical terms. The original sheet-steel panels, measuring up to 17 meters in length, were installed without connector joints and attached to the structure using a custom-made substructure and special clamps. These could not be upgraded and so were replaced with new lightweight aluminum ones.

Research into the original colors

Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus - ingenhoven associates ©Hans-Georg Hesch, courtesy of ingenhoven associates

A remarkable effort was made to investigate what the building was actually like when it was first inaugurated. The material stored at the Pfau Archives at Akademie der Künste (Academy of Fine Arts), in Berlin, plus period color photographs guided the designers in assessing every area and every color choice. The new required technical upgrades, such as for the cloakroom and restrooms, are in gray anthracite, to harmonize with the bright colors originally chosen by Pfau and to distinguish between the renovation works and the initial design.

>>> Conserve, expand and transform: explore the project by Manuelle Gautrand Architecture for Nouvelles Galeries Annecy



Location: Düsseldorf, Germany
Completion: 2020/2022
Client: roof and facade renovation: City of Düsseldorf; refurbishment of public areas: Neue Schauspiel GmbH
Architect: ingenhoven associates
Design Team: Christoph Ingenhoven, Oliver Ingenhoven, Max Grams, Peter Jan van Ouwerkerk, Veronika Przybyla, Vincent Jeanson, Anette Büsing, Dariusz Szczygielski, Ursula Koeker, Ulrich Hochgürtel

Structures: roof and facade: Werner Sobek; public areas: VDS Statik und konstruktiver Ingenieurbau
Lighting: Tropp Lighting Design
Interior design: ingenhoven associates
Building Physics: roof and facade: Werner Sobek; public areas: ISRW Dr.-Ing. Klapdor
Color Analysis and Consulting: Farb-Bau Prof. Friedrich Schmuck

Photo: © ingenhoven associates / HGEsch

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