by Jincy IypeJun 17, 2020
Over the years, MAD Architects has established a reputation that is synonymous with pushing the boundaries of design and innovation and their latest project, The Danshuis, which translates to 'the dancing house,' is no different. This revolutionary project is poised to transform the cultural landscape of Rotterdam in The Netherlands, with its daring architecture and unique blend of functionality and beauty.
The ambitious project involves the adaptive reuse of the Provimi warehouse, located on the south bank of the Mas River in Rotterdam, into a dynamic multi-use studio that celebrates the beauty of movement and performing arts, fostering an exchange of world dance culture. For this purpose, the proposed space will feature professional dance studios, theatres, and exhibition spaces.
The Netherlands-based Droom en Daad Foundation that commissioned the project, is passionate about establishing Rotterdam as a world leader in the arts and culture domain. To that effect, MAD Architects, under the leadership of Ma Yansong, has ingeniously retained the original warehouse structure while introducing several iconic design elements that celebrate freedom and pluralism. “With this second commission from Droom en Daad Foundation, we hope to highlight Rotterdam's yearning for freedom and embracing of diverse global cultures. The Fenix Museum of Migration and the Danshuis are closely linked and will also look to the future together in Rotterdam's century-old port,” said the design team at MAD Architects.
The studio will offer a space to artists worldwide to come together and share their skills, techniques, and cultural heritage. The modern design features used throughout the rest of the building stand in stark contrast to its classical architecture. Danshuis emphasises the value of fluid movement between dance, music, and architecture, while representing the free transmission of art via both material and ethereal forms.
The yellow seagull sculpture and red neon signs on the planted terrace of the second story facing the river, both of which were designed by Ma Yansong, are among Danshuis' most prominent elements. The striking sculpture serves as a source of inspiration and hope for everyone who enters the studio and pays homage to the marine heritage and culture of the city.
The open-air semi-circular theatre is another distinguishing feature of the Danshuis and was created in the manner of ancient Greek assembly halls and is situated on the top floor of the building. According to Yansong, "Dance is a flowing art of space. To emphasise that and respect the locality and history of the building, we decided to make minimum changes to the original structure, just to add art installations in conversation with the environment."
The classical architecture of this performance venue is animated by the dancers in the orchestra pit. It skilfully contrasts with the modern and constantly evolving background of the river. Allowing people to experience the outside from within; as well as witness the flow of dance and music while observing and being watched simultaneously, with the free transmission of art through visible and intangible forms in the Danshuis.
The studio will also be closely linked to the adjacent Fenix Museum of Migration, MAD's first European social project, thereby strengthening the city's cultural ties. The interconnectedness of the two projects demonstrates MAD Architects' dedication to developing concepts that push the frontiers of innovation, while centring around social impact. The Danshuis positively impacts the community, aligned with the city's future-oriented and ambitious nature.
Construction on the Danshuis is anticipated to begin shortly, while the Fenix Museum of Migration is currently under construction and is projected to be completed by 2024.
MAD Architects, founded in 2004 in China, is renowned for their cutting-edge, organic, and futuristic designs that embody a modern interpretation of Eastern awe for nature. The Danshuis is a perfect example of this philosophy in action. By blending the old and the new, the classical and the contemporary, the Danshuis celebrates dance, culture, and architecture, and is a testament to the power of innovation in transforming the cultural landscape of a city.
(Text by Khushi S Tandon, intern at STIRworld)