New construction of rehearsal building for “Ballett am Rhein”, Düsseldorf

The architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp) are designing the new rehearsal building for the ballet company of Deutsche Oper am Rhein. In a consortium with HOCHTIEF Solutions, they were commissioned by Düsseldorf City Council in a PPP scheme.

The new ballet building will be created on the historic site of the former Rheinbahn depot “am Steinberg” in Düsseldorf, between the listed tramway depot and the back of the housing development at Kopernikusstrasse. The building will provide the Oper’s 50 professional dancers and the ballet school’s 55 students with two ballet rooms with full-size stage dimensions, three smaller practice rooms as well as rest rooms, showers, a physiotherapy room and an apartment for guest artists. The new building has been designed as a compact cube and is clearly oriented towards Merowingerstrasse, from where the premises will be accessed in future. The two-storey foyer is located here. Its glazed façade defines the entrance area and stands out distinctly from the fair-faced concrete surface of the building.

Towards the south, the building recedes in deference to the neighbouring historic Rheinbahn depot, forming a transition to the 12m high stacked ballet rooms to the north. The two-storey foyer and the canteen welcome the visitor with generous access space, from where circulation areas lead through the building on all floors.
The ballet rehearsal rooms are on the ground and second floors, opposite the changing rooms and other supporting facilities. Access is via spacious lobbies from where the rehearsal rooms are entered on the side opposite the mirror wall, i.e. without disturbing ongoing dance practice.

The clerestory light bands of the north-facing rehearsal rooms admit daylight throughout the year and large, vertical windows open views to the outside. The position of the ballet building deep inside the site provides maximum tranquillity while, at the same time, giving appropriate prominence to the listed rail depot. As a result, there is optimum tension between technology and poetry, between hard physical work and rehearsal performances in the new Ballett am Rhein building.

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The architects von Gerkan, Marg und Partners have already designed and completed the State Ballet School in Berlin. The school complex not only provides optimum facilities for contemporary professional stage dance training, but also reflects the uniqueness of the institution in Germany and its international reputation through its dynamic architectural design.

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