Theater 11 / EM2N

© Hannes Henz

Architects: EM2N
Location: Zurich,
Project Leaders: Christof Zollinger, Verena Lindenmayer
Project Team: Dirk Harmdorf, Elke Kirst, Sidsel Kromann, Verena Lindenmayer, Claudia Meier, Mathias Müller, Verena Nelles, Daniel Niggli, Claudia Peter, Frank Schneider, Christof Zollinger
Client: MCH Messe Schweiz (Zürich) AG
Construction Management: AG
Structural Engineering: Aerni + Aerni
Mechanical Engineering: 3-Plan Haustechnik
Lighting & Stage Engineering: Nüssli AG
Project Year: 2005-2006
Photographs: Roger Frei Architekturfotografie & Hannes Henz Architekturfotografie

© Hannes Henz

In the near future we will increasingly be confronted with the problem of building fabric from the 1960s and 1970s that no longer satisfies present-day functional and technical standards. One project that tackles this problem is the refurbishment of a theatre building in Zurich Nord, which, in order to run it as a going concern, required an additional 700 seats and a larger foyer.

ground floor plan

These programmatic demands together with the specified budget gave us the starting point for a radical transformation of the existing substance into a contemporary musical theatre. Our project ‘cannibalises’ existing elements such as the basement and the fly tower. The new volume reacts in a differentiated way to the various scales of the urban context. As a result we were able resolve the urban deficiencies of the existing building.

© Hannes Henz

Ideally, there should be a strong conceptual coherence between a building’s programme, its architectural expression and the construction costs. Due to the buildings in the surroundings – Messe (trade fair), Hallenstadion (sports stadium) – we aimed for a direct, raw and industrial kind of expression. During the day the façade of standing- seam perforated metal is reminiscent of industrial buildings. At night the windows behind the translucent membrane begin to glow transforming the building into an artificial lantern. The activities in the foyer are conveyed outside by large ‘eyes’.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Theater 11 / EM2N" 22 Mar 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • sharwe


  • leandro matsuda

    good one !!! congratulations !!!

  • pi

    really good one!

  • RK

    This great. I like how they expressed the expression of the material as a conceptual like of the building to it’s relating context, the surrounding buildings, and the program. The consideration of how the building is understood in day time as a member of its relatively industrial surroundings and at night a lantern or a beacon of sorts if very interested. I can understand what that could do to draw in theater-goers.

    I do feel that the part of the story that would explain the triangular entrance way, as well as the rake of the sloping roof-line seems to be missing. I would just like to know how some of the decision that they made were made.

    Overall, it is a pretty cool-looking building. I suppose for now that is the most that I can say.

  • Dustin
  • fisseha

    awesome,…….. the building itself look like a character on THEATER

  • jayde

    Luurve the inside of this building… sehr cool

  • regröb

    i can watch inside the womens toilet while i´m waiting for the play to start…muhaha

  • bernard

    dustin – what’s your point exactly?