NL Architects's proposal for a new entertainment venue in Amsterdam makes Madison Square Garden seem like a funeral parlor. It's an outdoor catwalk, a cinema, and a theater in one, and with its curved wooden frame, it looks like a bombed-out pirate ship from Star Trek that washed up on the shores of the IJ and wants to throw everyone a big ol' party. Did we mention that it spins?
The venue, Multi Mill, won first prize in a design competition for a "cultural meeting place" at the harbor recently, which means this bit of sorcery will actually be built. (Probably. Then again, remember that the Dutch love crazy social-engineering and crazier design.)
It's clever for several reasons. First, it's an incredibly efficient use of space. Instead of throwing up three separate facilities, you build one. It's the equivalent of smashing together Madison Square Garden, Bryant Park, and the New Amsterdam Theatre—only outdoors, with a view of the water.
Second, it freaking spins. The pavilion is designed to revolve on its axis so you can switch up your backdrop at the touch of a button. (Mobile and transformable theaters aren't new, but they never cease to amaze us.) Imagine watching Metropolis with the city just yonder. It's like having your culture on a Lazy Susan. It also opens up the possibilities for all sorts of experimental theater and scene-setting. (We shudder to think what Richard Foreman could do with it.)
Above all, it's the pitch-perfect venue for the times. According to conventional wisdom, we've all got the attention span of a flea and, as a result, no one can bear to sit through a whole film or performance. We don't entirely buy that, unless, of course, you're talking about Heaven's Gate. But it's true that people are less willing to endure a crap performance, when there are so many other things they could be doing. At Multi Mill, if you tire of one show, ostensibly you could just turn around and start watching something else. Bored with Inception? Catch a clutch of Nordic bombshells thumping down the runway in techno teddies instead.
Obviously, there are technical kinks to work out. How many people can it hold? The revolving feature's cool, but will it end up being a pain in the ass for whomever has to maintain it? How exactly will the place accommodate wheelchairs? Are there ramps leading in? The architects will figure it out. Certainly, these guys have tackled thornier problems. See what we mean here.
[Images courtesy of NL Architects]