"The Royal Danish Theatre, Denmark's national theatre, has acquired a unique house with three stages; viz. the Royal Theatre Playhouse. The architecture and the materials chosen for this building, incl. the copper-covered stage tower rising above the entire complex at a height of 35 m, attempt resembling the surrounding town houses and the old towers of the city. The house has partly been constructed on piles in the harbour, and the lobby of the theatre sort of opens up towards three storeys with direct access to the pier at ground level. The building has been prepared for future increases of the water level. The building has been given a diploma by Foreningen til Hovedstadens Forskønnelse (the Association for the Embellishment of Copenhagen) and won the prize "Building of the Year 2008" by the Danish Construction Association in the open category. The Playhouse has also won the prize "Sustainable Concrete 2009", which was awarded by Dansk Beton (the Danish Concrete Society) for the first time this year."
A high-performance classic solution: The Royal Danish Playhouse is situated among traditional storehouses and other buildings along Copenhagen Harbour. That called for a façade solution that communicated respect for its architectural surroundings.
Beautiful, yes - but does it perform?
"If you can make a building look like it's always been part of its setting, then I think you can call the building a success." That's how architect Henrik Schmidt of Lundgaard & Tranberg sums up his approach to the design of the new Royal Danish Playhouse. The setting, in this case, is Copenhagen Harbour, with its brick storehouses and expansive view across the channel. Accordingly, Mr Schmidt and his team designed the theatre in glass, copper and custom-designed brick, with an oak plank promenade extending over the water along the glass foyer. The question was, how do you make traditional brick cavity walls perform like the latest high-tech systems?
Boosting efficiency, silencing noise
On top of all the aesthetic requirements, the playhouse had to deliver exceptional thermal and acoustic performance. "The building is packed with alternative energy systems, and the cavity wall supports energy efficiency by providing room for lots of insulation," Mr Schmidt explains.
The ROCKWOOL stone wool insulation chosen for the playhouse not only delivers outstanding thermal protection. It also protects against fire, is vapour-permeable and - particularly important for a theatre - baffles noise coming from outside the building. "It was important to minimise disturbances by keeping noise out, and an insulated cavity wall does a great job," says Mr Schmidt. who also cites a reputation for reliable, durable performance as reasons for choosing ROCKWOOL insulation.
A solution that lives up to expectations
The Royal Danish Playhouse has been widely praised both for its appearance and for its performance as a building. When asked about ROCKWOOL's overall contribution to his project's success, Mr Schmidt says the insulation fully lives up to his expectations. What does he appreciate most about it? "Let's put it this way," Mr Schmidt concludes, "it just works." "Let's put it this way, it just works." - Henrik Schmidt, architect.
Inspired by the old brick warehouses in Copenhagen Harbor the Playhouse seems to be growing out of the existing city adding a new layer to history. The project shows how user involvement and activation of the public space is possible in important performance spaces. The public harbor promenade merges with the foyer encouraging people to enter at all hours of the day.
The weight of the Playhouse-building matches that of the long, concrete Kvæsthus Pier to the north. Together the two form a dynamic span in the harbor space in an intricate play of darkness and light, weight and lightness, mass and surface. But socially there is also a difference between the two ends of the composition. While the Playhouse creates an intense setting for city life, theatrical art and human togetherness, The Kvæsthus Pier is an opportunity to spend time alone close to the sea and the sky or enjoy various outdoor performances from the Royal Danish Theatre during the summer months.
The public arrives at the theatre at the front. The wooden deck urges you to take a seat. It offers a rite of passage that fine-tunes the mind and leads you from the everyday into the theatre. The foyer is also a public space open during daytime. It’s an intermediate zone, protected from the weather but not quite inside the theatre.
The Royal Theatre aimed for a new house with good logistics and functionalities making it possible for the many diverse staff groups to perform at their best. This led to the idea of gathering all staff functions on the third floor. Everybody works on the same floor, eat in the same canteen meeting both formally and informally. The theatre management has stated that this particular workspace organization, provides a unique atmosphere for employees giving them a sense of belonging to a large family.
The Large Stage is renowned for its world class acoustic performance and intense atmosphere. The Small Stage and the Portal Stage are two smaller, intimate performance spaces. The latter can be opened towards Ofelia Square on the Kvæsthus Pier enabling the acting to not only flow around and through the Playhouse; but also flowing out of the building onto the deck of the pier where several options for live performances are on hand.
A Sustainable Playhouse
· The Playhouse is constructed using quality materials with long lifespans.
· The building’s compact structure minimizes the building’s energy needs.
· During the summer months, the building’s location at the harbor is utilized. The Playhouse is cooled using sea water sent through a heat exchanger that circulates the cool water round in the thermo-active slabs.
· The cool night air is used during summer to cool the building through natural ventilation. The heavy structures and thermo-active slabs are cooled down at night, so staff arrive to work in the morning to a comfortable building temperature.
· During the winter, passive solar heating is utilized to heat the building as the thermo-active slabs absorb the solar energy.
· In winter, the recycled heat energy from the audience and stage lighting is reused for heating. Heat pumps located at the top of the stage are used to transfer energy from the hot air via water-based media to the thermo-active slabs. As the building has a heavy thermal mass, popularly formulated, the audience for the evening’s performance helps to heat the building the following day.
These initiatives reduced the cooling needs by more than 75%, and the total energy required by approximately 40 %, when compared against a building with a corresponding volume that does not have energy saving measures implemented.