Muziekkwartier Enschede

, 07 Nov 2019

The Muziekkwartier (Music Quarter) in the Dutch city of Enschede is a place where different cultural organizations have lived together under one roof since 2008 as separate companies. Times have changed – new urban developments led to unexpected needs arising. 

The Muziekkwartier wants to become a low-threshold, future-proof physical environment with more unity between the individual partners. This vision also includes the integration of a potential newcomer: the Central Public Library. This Quarter aims to become a gateway to a bustling city center bursting with cultural experiences.

Striving for synergy

The Muziekkwartier is located at Wilminkplein in the heart of the city. This square currently brings about some social insecurities, which makes the revitalization of the area a priority. The redesign of the Muziekkwartier plays an essential role. The individual partners are Wilminktheater & Muziekcentrum (theatre and music center), Metropool (pop music and dance venue), Kaliber Kunstenschool (school for music, dance, theater and visual arts), De Nederlandse Reisopera (Dutch Touring Opera), Phion, Orkest van Gelderland & Overijssel (symphony orchestra) and ArtEZ conservatorium (art school).

Throughout the years they discovered that a more intense collaboration on both content and organization would elevate the Muziekkwartier to the next level. The integration of Enschede’s Central Library into the Muziekkwartier will not only be a big step for the Library itself, but also for the Muziekkwartier to upgrade its social character. However, the old situation displayed closed buildings, literally and figuratively speaking. This unfortunate detachment has created the need to establish a more efficient physical connection. It also led to the investigation to find room for the library’s 4,500 m2 of books, events, gatherings, study places and more.

Composing core values

The mission of the leading partners within the revision of Muziekkwartier is unanimous: they want to become a third place avant la lettre. The transition toward a third place will be made possible by improving visibility and safety, integrating programming and offering all-day activities in a welcoming environment for different audiences. Aat Vos explains, “The Muziekkwartier wants to become the living room of the city. This surprising synthesis will create an inspiring place for meeting up, presentations, production, and development; a place where every citizen of Enschede and resident of the province of Twente feels at home. The core values and joint vision of the partners within the Muziekkwartier have been set out in two workshops with about 30 people – from directors and scholars to students, entrepreneurs, teachers, and trainees. It was a crucial part of the development process that considered people of 148 different nationalities, ages, incomes and levels of education.”

The Muziekkwartier wants to become the living room of the city. This surprising synthesis will create an inspiring place where every citizen of Enschede and resident of the province of Twente feels at home.

Aat Vos Aat Vos Creative Guide

First steps of symbolic design

In collaboration with Mars Interieurarchitecten, we have found ways to literally shape matters such as recognizability and unity within the building. The main feature of this project is the interconnected staircase loop, which is M.C. Escher-esque, drawing you and your eyes in. These steps are both inviting and special. Other key elements are relocating the entrance area and connecting the different partner spaces thanks to the rerouting and multiple-use of the central hall. This also allowed for the possibility of integrating the Library into the Muziekkwartier by slightly expanding the floor area, increasing the transparency and the sightlines in the building.

The ultimate third place

When the plans will turn into reality, the renewed Muziekkwartier will have a new, joint identity and will offer combined programming from morning until night. The cultural quarter on Wilminkplein will offer an atmosphere that is open and light with a centrally located brasserie and terrace. The new, low-threshold main entrance is located on the square. Both the square and the building are always bustling with people; this promotes accessibility and safety. From the main entrance, it is easy to find your way into the rest of the building. The Muziekkwartier of the future invites you to meet, grab a bit to eat or drink something, attend a lecture, make a selection from thousands of books, attend a workshop and, of course, enjoy live music or theater. It makes you run into the unexpected, which not only keeps you there but also makes you want to come back.

Project credits:

Muziekwartier Enschede (client: Stichting Muziekkwartier Enschede) is a co-creation of aatvos (design concept, strategy, creative direction) and Mars Interieurarchitecten (design, engineering).
Video & 3D images: Mars Interieurarchitecten