Diller Scofidio + Renfro wins competition for New Pina Bausch Zentrum in Wuppertal

The Pina Bausch Zentrum (PBZ) will build on the radical ethos of Pina Bausch for a new generation of leadership and the pioneering choreography of Boris Charmatz. The shared DNA of their work, which resists the rigid boundaries of dance, requires an architecture that challenges institutional norms.

The anatomy of the PBZ is defined by the intersection of two axes: an East-West extension of the garden courtyards of the Schauspielhaus and a North-South connection from the Bundesallee to the river. The crossing forms a third courtyard that will be the center of activity.

Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

This Performance Courtyard is a multi-level space surrounded by the functional programs of the building: the Lobby to the North, the support wing with archive above to the East, the Multifunktionsraum to the South, and Die Küche to the West-where the Schauspielhaus and the new building join. It is used by all programs and functions as an outdoor dining and performance space.

Ground as Mosaic
The PBZ and its surroundings make up a mosaic of interpretable spaces defined by their attributes: indoor and outdoor, vegetated and paved, environmentally controlled and raw. Spaces may be opened or closed depending on the weather. They can be interconnected or separated. The mosaic is a democratic surface. The public can flow through the building from street to river and from Schauspielhaus to Sopp’sche Pavilion without purchasing a ticket.

Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The creative energy of the PBZ – rehearsals, performances, events, exhibitions, food – are made visible and accessible in all directions. A second ground is defined by the extension of the existing terrace of the Schauspilhaus, which pierces into the Performance Court and becomes the technical walkway of the Multifunktionsraum (Multi-Function Room). From this elevated pathway, accessible from the courtyard and the landscape, the public is invited behind-the-scenes to view installations and rehearsals as well as performances.

A terrace above the archive offers an exterior space adjacent to the Ballettsaal (Ballet Hall) for dancers to warm up or extend their rehearsals outside. The area surrounding the Sopp’sche Pavilion has intimate micro-courts that can be used as outdoor reading rooms for scholars at the Pina Bausch library, an informal lobby, or break-out space for the two interconnected Multifunktionsräume.

Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

A continuous Riverwalk with a terraced edge brings the dancers and audiences into direct contact with the water while reinforcing the site against flooding. This walk is punctuated by three outdoor plazas that extend the activities of the center to the public.

A Machine for Dance
In response to Boris Charmatz’ sentiment that dance is everywhere, the building and surrounding site offer a proof of concept on home turf. The PBZ is an agile architecture of infrastructure, both raw and refined, and responsive to needs as they happen.The cantilevered Ballettsaal (Ballet Hall) facing north acts as a canopy to the front door.

Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

A café hangout below has lighting and simple rigging that can be used for informal performances off the street. The adjacent historic plaza that connects the front doors of the Schauspielhaus and PBZ can be taken over for larger public events and festivals. Die Küche (The Kitchen) just beyond the entry is the social hub of the PBZ where artists and audiences mix day and night.

Flexible seating including informal lounge areas and communal dining are organized around a large central bar that straddles old and new and provides a discreet connection to below ground kitchen support. The Performance Courtyard is a communal hub for collaborative work and socializing, an outdoor expansion of Die Küche and a multi-level performance space. It is ringed by catwalks and equipped with rigging and lighting for outdoor performance.

Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

A retractable fabric canopy can be seasonally deployed to passively warm and shade the space for year round use. The Multifunktionsraum (Multi-function space) is a raw space isolated for sound with retractable shades for light and view control, a robust technical grid for rigging and lighting, and retractable doors that open to connect into the Performance Courtyard and the River Plaza.

Sheltered by a bi-fold hanger door, the River Plaza has plug-in infrastructure for power and lighting. The covered entry plaza, lobby, courtyard, Multifunktionsraum, and River Plaza open onto one another with large scale operable hanger doors to make one continuous space from Bundesallee Street to the river. Source by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Location: Wuppertal, Germany

Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Partners: Elizabeth Diller,Ricardo Scofidio,Charles Renfro,and Benjamin Gilmartin

Project Leaders: David Allin

Design Team: Maya Shopova,Charles Curran,Jedidiah Lau,Jonathan Parker,Ryan Botts,Alicia Munoz,Yundong (Patrick) Yang,Graysen Maxwell Babbitt,Alfred Wei,and Jonathon Cielo

Landscape Architecture: Rainer Schmidt Landschaftsarchitekten

Local Architect: Höhler+Partner, Architekten und Ingenieure

Theater Consultants: Charcoalblue

Structural Engineering and Sustainability: Werner Sobek

Year: 2023

Images: Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

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