The city of Holstebro has celebrated the completion of the public realm project around the Storaa stream and new cultural facilities, designed by OKRA and the Danish Schul office. The project is funded by the City of Holstebro and Realdania, a Danish foundation who contributes to public cultural projects.
The project makes a major difference in the city and a connection between the two parts of the centre. The north part and the south part of the centre of Holstebro will be linked by a new focal point. The public spaces around the cultural buildings, like cinema and dance theatre, provide new élan to the city by transforming them into an outdoor stage. The project is the catalyst of changing the riverside from a backside with functional connections into a ‘place to be’. Previously, the riverside was neglected and the city had turned its back towards the water.
Even just after the opening one can notice that the riverside is already that attractive that the quality of public space will be a catalyst for further development. On the north side of the project new developments in the next years will create frontages towards the riverside, where it is now just the backside of commercial activities and parking places. In the further future we can envision that more private owners want to turn their faces towards the river scenery. It can be envisioned that some extension of the buildings combined with underground parking supplies in a future second phase, where parks, playgrounds and small planted squares will form an extension of the beautiful riverside area.
The relatively deep position of the river is transformed to a public theatre by making sculptural space. A continuous space is created by ‘foldings’, sometimes the fold is a path, sometimes-small spots and sometimes a place to sit. Thus a space is arisen, where the user component becomes of the set. Logical routes for pedestrians and bicycles are provided in an informal way by making smooth inclines. Sitting places are provided just to watch the water floating and are inviting people to stay. On other days small or larger events can take place. On the south bank a stage area is created with steps to sit on. The bridge takes a central position, tying the folded urban realm of both riverbanks together. The bridge is created in a place where people can pass or citizens can stay and watch the scenery.
Dynamic theatre square
The former parking space in the south of the theatre is transformed into a public realm that expresses the activities in the buildings. To adjust to the cultural impact of this area the square on the south side of the cultural building is regarded as an outdoor theatre. The space has become a hybrid between park and square, where green and stone go together. The dynamics of the space are reinforced elements, which can change. A large water element ensures a changing focus in the space. The film of water on a paved area is sometimes a fountain or a place for children to play with, sometimes just an object to watch from the adjacent stairs. The long stairs, where people can sit on and watch the scenery, are combined with a vast dike, planted with trees on a lawn. While being a bit little higher than the rest, it borders the area and cars outside the area are not visible.
Special attention is given to the light plan, designed by Åsa Frankenberg. The light along the riverside is more than just direct artificial light. It contributes in positive sense to the picture of the area, when it presents a theatre-like impact during the evening hours. Especially in the early hours of the evening during winters, the artificial light has substantial meaning. The artificial light reinforces the urban use of public realm and creates a scenery based on a program of additional dynamic light, which plays with the visitor. Activities from the theatre building can expand to the riverside and use the bridge as a stage.
Process: The concept and realization is made by OKRA and Schul Landskabarkitekter in collaboration with Åsa Frankenberg from Berlin, Germany for the lighting design.
Nature and area:
Area: 2,3 hectare
Program: dancing theater, square and walking promenade along the Storaa.
Budget: € 5,0 milj. (excl. VAT)
Realization: Designing competition 2006, 1st price
Realization: 2007 – 2009