Multifunctional buildings of this kind, comparable with the arenas found in the United States, often have the character of drab, concrete utilitarian buildings with a low-quality finish. In the design for the Jaarbeurs extension, relatively simple means are used to attempt to create a building with the allure of a theatre, but one where sports activities can also be held.
The building must be flexible in order to have as great a level ground-floor area as possible for exhibitions and trade fairs, but must also be able to offer sufficient seating on stands on the occasion of concerts and sports competitions. It turned out that an efficient way of achieving this flexibility is by partly arranging the seating on permanent stands, and partly on movable stands that can be shifted into place.

The new ovoid building is set apart from the existing Jaarbeurs complex. The extension is connected with the existing building via footbridges, like an aeroplane standing at a terminal. The building can therefore make use of amenities in the existing Jaarbeurs hall, such as toilets, cloakrooms and food and beverage facilities. Theatre-specific functions such as dressing rooms, stage-management facilities and technical spaces for installations were the only functions that needed to be accommodated in the extension. The large backstage facilities for pop concerts, which are only needed occasionally, were designed to be partly included in the building itself and partly as a temporary construction behind the building.

An important constraint for the design was the permitted noise level. Pop concerts in particular produce noise levels that might be a nuisance for the houses in the immediate vicinity should the building be inadequately insulated.
The walls of the building are formed by the stands. The tribune-elements are made of concrete, partly so that their mass contributes to the sound insulation. The steel trusses that form the roof span rest on top of these stand elements. Though it is true that the trusses are relatively light, by contrast the roofing material is relatively heavy in order to guarantee sufficient sound insulation. The aluminium cladding of the elevations and the roof is seamlessly connected. Small glass openings in the striking volume allow daylight into the buildingÂ’s office spaces. The large glazed facade of the foyer looks out across the city. A big announcement board, partly displaying electronic messages, marks access from the street to the grounds.

Client: HBG Regio Utrecht