Frits van Dongen, director and architect of van Dongen–Koschuch Architects and Planners will attend SHARE Forum 2017 in Bucharest on 21st -22nd March where he will be a guest speaker presenting “The Kampanje” Theater in Den Helder – a project for which the practice received the Arie Keppler Award in 2016.
Frits van Dongen completed his studies in Architecture at the Delft University of Technology in 1980. He started his own practice in 1985 in order to complete his first commission: Van Dongen Architekten in Delft. In 1988 he co-founded de Arkitekten Cle, being a partner here until 2011 when he was appointed as Chief Government Architect of The Netherlands. He established van Dongen–Koschuch Architects and Planners in 2011, along with his former colleague from de Arkitekten Cle, Patrick Koschuch, in order to escape a conflict of interest and allow his former practice to participate in Government projects. Therefore, he continues building an architectural career for which he was awarded the BNA Kubus – the Oeuvre Award of the Royal Institute of Architects in Netherlands in 2006. His projects cover a considerable range of programs and aim at designing spaces that resonate with and participate in their urban setting. Van Dongen has also been guest professor at ‘Universitat Internacional de Catalunya’ in Barcelona, ‘Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’, ‘Universität Konstanz’, Delft University of Technology and at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, expanding his influence through lecturing as well – he was invited to hold lectures in the Netherlands, Europe, the United States and Canada, thus complementing the international activity of his practice.
Some of the projects that made us familiar with the architect are the residential building The Whale in Amsterdam, the ensemble ‘De Landtong’ in Rotterdam, the Pathé ArenA multiplex in Amsterdam-Zuidoost and the city theatre ‘De Harmonie’ in Leeuwarden, the ‘Conservatory of Amsterdam’ or the Pop venue in Venlo (2014);
The project he will present at SHARE Bucharest 2017, ‘The Kampanje” Theater in Den Helder is a beautiful illustration of van Dongen–Koschuch activity, being both a restauration of an old abandoned complex of maritime buildings and a shifting towards a cultural use, urban oriented. The transformation requires a negotiation between the aesthetics of the existing structures, the idea of their continued presence throughout the completion of the project and the introduction of new public functions like a concert hall, flexible performance spaces, an art centre, offices and a restaurant. As the architects mention “inspiration for the design is drawn from the identity and character of the historic buildings, an interplay of structure, craft, public space, docks and water.” In order to achieve that, the auditorium made in glass brings forward a level of transparency that plays also with the basic ideas of public space: “seeing and being seen becomes a guiding theme throughout”. The intervention combines functions and accessibility in such a way that this part of the city becomes used during an extended period during the day, letting the very nature of a theatre venue – sociability and performance both at once – to nearly become the interface of the project. The new public path created by disposing the points of access in the building one towards the water and one towards the city restores in such a way the city’s connection to the sea through this forgotten area.