What will the theatre houses of tomorrow look like? What shape will these central collective cultural meeting places take? It is not just the technical requirements and opportunities that are changing — the way performances are staged and what the public wants to see are also in ﬂux. The unique ensemble that forms the Schauspiel theatre and the Opera in Frankfurt shall soon be undergoing comprehensive refurbishment — 50 years after the emblematic structure with its glass foyer first opened to the public. Courses of action currently being discussed are whether to renovate or start afresh, stay in the same spot or relocate.
“All The World’s A Stage? Comparing European Theatres, Operas and Concert Halls”
March 24 – May 21, 2018
Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM)
Schaumainkai 43, Frankfurt am Main
The exhibition ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE? looks at comparable projects of recent years, both in Germany and in Europe. These include the restoration of historical buildings as well as spectacular new structures, which in some cases constitute landmarks in their respective urban setting.
The Frankfurt citizenry as well as its political bodies and administration have a strong interest in the future of the Städtische Bühnen Frankfurt. Owing to the sheer scale of the project – both in a financial sense and from an urban-planning and architectural perspective – the discussion and development have moreover attracted attentive followers both within the Rhine-Main region and across Germany.
The exhibition at the DAM supports this discussion on the architectural future of the Städtische Bühnen Frankfurt with current projects and solid data. ALL THE WORLD’S STAGE? is intended to render a contribution to developing a clear vision for the Städtische Bühnen Frankfurt.
COMPARING EUROPEAN THEATRES, OPERAS AND CONCERT HALLS
Buildings were selected for the exhibition that demonstrate different aspects and strategies of approaching theatres, operas and concert houses in cities. What is common to all these public buildings is that they are extremely significant places of collective encounter and cultural participation in the urban fabric.
Many of the projects selected have similar dimensions to the Schauspiel theatre or Opera at Städtische Bühnen Frankfurt (800 seats in the theatre, 1,400 seats in the Opera), whose architectural history and current feasibility study are also presented in the exhibition. To ensure good comparability of the building conditions, the examples are restricted to European projects only. STÄDTISCHE BÜHNEN FRANKFURT architects: Heinrich Seeling / Otto Apel in Bürogemeinschaft mit Letocha, Rohrer, Herdt und Lehberger / Otto Apel, ABB Architekten client: Städtische Bühnen GmbH inauguration: 1902 / 1951 / 1963
The present-day facility housing both, the opera house and the theatre on Willy Brandt Platz, forms a structural unit in appearance only. It is actually a complex ensemble of structures, which have grown together over more than 100 years. The first theatre on this site opened in 1902, built to a design by the theatre architect Heinrich Seeling on the road through the former city ramparts called Gallustor. The building was badly damaged in an air raid in 1944.
The theatre building was partially reconstructed from 1949–51 by Otto Apel, working as part of a consortium with Letocha, Rohrer, Herdt and Lehberger and was then used primarily for opera performances. The City Council passed a resolution to create a building housing both, opera and theatre, in 1958. The company Otto Apel, ABB Architekten was commissioned with the planning. The solution seemed beneficial on account of the fact that it would be possible for the theatre and the opera to use the workshops, storage space, and administrative offices jointly. The two structures were united by the striking, new, 120-metre-long and 9-metre-high glass foyer embracing the opera house and the theatre. The different construction stages are, however, even today still clearly legible from the groundfloor entrances to the two buildings.
As part of the reconstruction of the opera house auditorium (following an arson attack in 1987), the complex was extended to include a new structure with artists’ and rehearsal rooms and an added ballet hall. In 1991-92 the foyer and auditorium of the theatre were redesigned and given a technical overhaul. From 2007 to 2010 the entire workshop complex in the southeast of the facility was rebuilt, and new spaces added to the existing structure. The design was the work of gmp – Architekten von Gerkan, Marg und Partner. The new entrance to the Kammerspiel was also built as part of these measures.