The new Focus Filmtheater houses five cinemas with about 400 seats. The building is located on Kerkplein in Arnhem, right beside the prominent Eusebius Church.
With a spectacular design that preserves the view on the old Eusebius church, DP6 architectuurstudio won the design competition of the Focus Film Theatre in Arnhem (The Netherlands) in 2016. Before the war, buildings filled the space around the church, and the site of the new film theatre there was occupied by a narrow street called Torensteeg. DP6 recreated the historical Torensteeg as a structuring element in the new building. This ‘New Torensteeg’, which slices the building in two, preserves views of the Eusebius Church. Robert Alewijnse of DP6 architectuurstudio explains: “The site of the new Focus Filmtheater is of great historical significance. The prominent Eusebius Church on Kerkplein is particularly important to Arnhem. It is not only a Late Gothic church building but also the symbol of post-war reconstruction. That made it all the more important to integrate the new building on this site into its surroundings very carefully. In thinking about the scheme before coming up with the design, we found the reference to the Torensteeg to be the ultimate eureka moment.”
The view of the tower also plays an important role inside the building. The church is visible through the glass roof from the grand public staircase that leads to the cinemas. The stairs offer access to all cinemas and to the roof terrace, where outdoor films can be screened. Alewijnse: “The broad flight of steps, rising towards the church tower, forms the heart of the building, the central axis of orientation. The various spaces are arranged along this artery.”
The glass roof is made of glass fins positioned at various angles. Alewijnse: “I’m pleasantly surprised at how strongly you feel the presence of the church through those glass fins! You can judge space and materials, but the effect of transparency and light is difficult to measure in advance.”
The facade of the Focus Filmtheater consists of a double-height transparent plinth crowned by richly detailed brickwork. This composition echoes some classic elements found in the centre of Arnhem, such as tall shopfronts and brickwork embellishments. Alewijnse: ‘I was aware that we had embarked on a controversial project, but I think that our design blends well with the surroundings. In terms of urban design, I’m convinced that the building makes a fine contribution to the city.”