In the city center Of Heerlen, Poppodium Nieuwe Nor by diederendirrix is a unique new landmark and hub for the spread of musical talent in the Pinkpop region. A former hardware retailer and workshop, the project is a renovation and expansion including a concert hall for up to 1200 people.
Following a former city canal, the spatial structure of the surrounding context dates to the Middle ages, the existing building itself is richly ornamented. Two adjacent buildings were demolished to accommodate the expansion, complete with new hall and associated facilities.
The project is located at the crossroads of two urban structures of significance. There are a number of intimate squares forming a spatial sequence from the south, while an ‘urban catwalk’ connects the centre on an east-west axis.
The architects explain that they view the façade as a strong urban sculpture, responding like a living organism to the environment. The architecture is capable of concealing the music stage when no show is planned. At the same time, it functions as an urban attraction whenever there is an event taking place inside, arousing the curiosity of passersby.
Inside, signposts designate a clear routing while stair guide concert goers in a flowing line through the foyer area in the front of the main hall the two balconies.
The design is highly determined by logistics, for example when a touring band arrives after a tiring bus journey, efficiency is incredibly important. As such, rooms are arranged to ensure that equipment can be moved from bus to the stage with speed and ease. Vehicles are able to unload safely in a dry and sheltered location while dressing rooms and well furnished equipment with a highly considered spatial arrangement.
Human interaction is central to the project, in particular, between the audience and the performers. As such, sight lines to the stage have been optimized and the hall is designed to prioritized width over depth in support of the experience and intensity. Large balconies run along both the side and rear wall of the hall, with a rise in elevation, seating members of the audience have an enhanced experience and ideal views of the stage.