theater planning
& scenography

Organizing constellations


Theaters, concert halls, museums: spaces where artists and audiences meet around stories and objects. The architectural layout and design frame the artistic possibilities and shape the relationships between performers and audiences. Similarly, the spatial constellation of museums guides the narratives.

The Space Factory provides design and consulting services to architects, design teams, owners and users for the development of architectural projects for the arts. Theater planning, or scenography, is about the organization of the project at conceptual, architectural, technical and practical levels. The theater planner guides the design team and clients from the initial idea to the realization of the building project.


We help architects design performance and exposition spaces that not only work well at practical levels, but that also speak to the imagination of the creative minds that produce music, theater and expositions. The design and engineering of facilitating stage machinery, theater lighting, and sound and video systems form the basis of our work. The expertise that connects the technical parts to the architectural project includes analysis of program, use, and site, definition of areas, volumes, and space relationships, optimization of circulation and logistics, design of the principal spaces and places, and sightline studies.



Crossing disciplines with clarity


The theater planner and acoustician are the architect’s closest sparring partners from the start of the project. The Space Factory contributes with a crisp analysis of requirements, needs, wishes, hopes and dreams at artistic and operational levels. We take a guiding role, much like a music producer, where we accompany design teams and owners to pursue ideas that make these spaces work. In that process, we have a keen eye for architectural twists that create new and different possibilities.

Building for the arts may be complex, but it should not be complicated. During the development of the design, we give great attention to all specialists and engineers, some of whom may be new to creating places for the arts. Clarity in goals, roles and interfaces liberates the team to explore intelligent and contemporary design solutions together.


Our tasks, actions and deliverables cover many topics throughout the design and construction phases, from functional descriptions and architectural reviews to integrated theater drawings and technical specifications.


The Space Factory enjoys teaming with local theater consultants for the embedding of national habits, rules and regulations, and the development of technical documentation. We believe that these international collaborations enrich the design conversation and assure architects, clients and builders continuity in the realization of the project.



  • Lyric Theatre Complex

    West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong.

    Lyric Theatre Complex

    West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong.

    The Lyric Theatre Complex, designed by UN Studio, combines three theaters into a center of excellence for dance and theatre. The Lyric Theatre has room for up 1,450 spectators. The theater is equipped with a large orchestra pit, has a manual understage, a side stage and a modern flytower. The Medium Theatre, with 600 seats has more or less the same functionalities, yet in a smaller package. The 250-seat Studio Theatre, originally intended as a blackbox theater evolved during the design into a small proscenium house. Nine dance studios, including a large rehearsal room, provide ample space for the preparation of productions. The dance studios will form the Resident Company Center, a hub for development and collaboration for dance companies and artists in Hong Kong.


    The project was developed by our colleagues at Carr & Angier in close collaboration with the architects at UN Studio and their joint venture partner AD+RG. The Space Factory has taken over the theater design and consulting roles from the latter part of the Design Development phase forward. The project covers all theater disciplines, including stage machinery, stage lighting, and AV and Media systems that are developed at the cusp of the rapidly evolving network technologies.


    Construction of the founding basement that covers the train tracks under the site and forms the foundation for the Theatre Complex is in progress. The Theater building was tendered in 2018, and preparations for the its construction are now underway.


    The Site
    West Kowloon Cultural District
    Architects — UNStudio and AD+RG
    Owner — West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
    Acoustician — Marshall Day Acoustics, Hong Kong
    Scenographer — The Space Factory (concept through design development phase: Carr & Angier)
    Associated consultant — Phil Soden
    Construction cost — HKD 3,0 B
    Status — under construction


  • Kultur Casino

    Bern, Switzerland.

    Kultur Casino

    Bern, Switzerland.

    The Kultur Casino is a listed building designed around 1908 by Lindt & Hoffmann in the historic center of Bern, containing a 1,200-ish concert hall and a chamber music hall. The architects CampanileMichetti have the task to bring the repeatedly modified building closer to its origins while matching its technical facilities to current requirements. The focus of the renovation is on the Concert Hall and the Burgerratsaal. Both will receive new mechanical stage risers and new seating. The lighting will be upgraded, with improved coverage and lighting quality. The ventilation systems are renewed for better comfort and less noise.


    The Space Factory is responsible for the scenographic interventions. The scope includes the design of a new stage riser system, the extension of suspension possibilities for the frequent commercial and theatrical uses of the room, the design of a new orchestra and theater lighting system, and an upgrade of the AV networks. The seating of both halls will be renewed, with special attention to the design of a multi-use seat that is equally comfortable for concerts and banquets.


    Deconstruction of the old stage riser system

    Deconstruction of the old stage risers

    Architects — CampanileMichetti Architekten
    Owner — Burgergemeinde Bern
    Project Management — Ingenta
    Acoustician — Kahle Acoustics
    Scenographer — The Space Factory
    Project area — 10,000 m2 NFA
    Construction cost — CHF 74 M
    Status — under construction


  • Anneliese Brost Musikforum Ruhr

    Bochum, Germany.

    Anneliese Brost Musikforum Ruhr

    Bochum, Germany.

    The Musikforum is the new home for the Bochumer Symphoniker, with a 950-seat concert hall and a 300-seat flexible rehearsal and performance space. The former church at the center of the building has become a multifunctional foyer, a central meeting space for musical minds, and will be used for concerts and installations. The center is also used by the youth orchestra and other ensembles of the music school.


    The project, initially developed by Frans Swarte when still with Ducks Scéno, was continued by The Space Factory from the Construction Documents phase through Construction Administration and Commissioning in a consulting team led by Müller-BBM. Local partner ITV-mbH in Berlin assured the technical documentation and site support.


    Bochum Musikzentrum construction site
    View from the upstage balcony
    Architects — Bez + Kock, Stuttgart, Germany
    Owner — City of Bochum, Bochum, Germany
    Acousticians — Müller-BBM and Kahle Acoustics
    Scenographer — The Space Factory (Ducks Scéno through 2014)
    Local theater consultant — ITV mbH
    Project area — 10,000 m2 NFA
    Construction cost — 30 M Euro
    Theater equipment cost — 1.6 M Euro
    Inaugurated 28 October 2016


  • Elbphilharmonie

    Hamburg, Germany.


    Hamburg, Germany.

    The Elbphilharmonie consists of a 2,150-seat concert hall, a chamber music hall with up to 550 seats, and a choir rehearsal room for 150 singers. The project has become the second home of the NDR Symphony Orchestra, and includes extensive recording and broadcast facilities.


    While at Ducks Scéno, Frans Swarte was scenographer and project manager for the Elbphilharmonie. During the final 30 months of the Construction Administration phase, The Space Factory was acting scenography consultant and keeper of project memory for Herzog & de Meuron.


    The Grand Hall

    The Grand Hall

    Architects — Herzog & de Meuron
    Acoustician — Nagata Acoustics
    Scenographer — The Space Factory (Ducks Scéno through 2014)
    Client — City of Hamburg, Germany
    Project area — 20,000 m2 NFA
    Project cost — 780 M Euro
    Theater equipment estimate — 15 M Euro
    Inaugurated in January 2017


  • Hart van Zuid

    Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

    Hart van Zuid

    Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

    The International Congress Center is an extension of the Ahoy complex at Rotterdam’s south side. The project is just one element of a complete revamping of the neighborhood that includes a new bus transfer station, a swimming pool, a new community theater, and the renovation and expansion of the existing AHOY exposition halls.


    The ICC project extends the congress and music/theater facilities of AHOY. The center piece is the Venue Hall, with a wide range of uses in a vast space of more than 3,500 m2: exposition, pop/rock/… concerts, congress, and music theater (musicals). In theater mode, there will be more than 2,750 seats; for music concerts, the audience increases to 7,000 including over 6,500 standing. The congress center has multiple breakout rooms ranging from 50 to 1,000 seats, and a large banquet hall.


    The Space Factory provides all theater planning and design services for the consortium of construction companies Ballast Nedam and Heijmans, in collaboration with Kraaijvanger Architects. Working from the end of the Schematic Design phase, the scope includes analysis of the user program and architectural concepts, continuing development of the logistics, design support for the congress spaces, and the design of the Venue Hall, including its transformations, and all permanent theater technology, equipment and infrastructure.


    Map of the Hart van Zuid project

    Map of the Hart van Zuid project, AHOY ICC in yellow

    Construction company — Hart van Zuid (Ballast Nedam and Heijmans)
    Architects — Kraaijvanger Architects
    Owner — City of Rotterdam
    User — Rotterdam Ahoy
    Structural engineer — Abt
    Acoustician — LBP | Sight
    Scenographer — The Space Factory
    Project area — 15,000 m2
    Construction cost — N/A
    Theater equipment cost — N/A
    Status — under construction



    Spaces for music education in Venezuela.

    “El Sistema”

    Spaces for music education in Venezuela.


    After the involvement in the large concert hall and conservatory projects, see past experience, The Space Factory was invited to contribute to two smaller scale music schools in the western mountains and the center of Caracas.

    Núcleo Mucuchíes

    Estado Mérida, Venezuela.


    The Space Factory assists the architects and client with the practical organization and design of the music school, and the development of all theater techniques and technology.


    The village of Mucuchiés lies in the center of a valley at 3,000 meters above sea level. The new facilities for the Fondación Musical Simon Bolivar (a.k.a. El Sistema) consists of three buildings, which will be constructed in three phases: a music school, a 400-seat concert space, and workshops for the arts.


    The center piece of the music school is the Sala Experimental, a large orchestral rehearsal room that opens to the outdoors. The construction for this first phase of the project is underway.


    Rendering of the Sala Experimental

    Sala Experimental. Image courtesy ADJKM

    Architect — ADJKM
    Acoustician — Kahle Acoustics
    Scenographer — The Space Factory
    Project area — 3,000 m2 GFA (phase 1)
    Construction cost — € 7.5 M (equivalent)
    Status — phase 1 under construction, phases 2 & 3 in design

    Núcleo Musical Amarillo

    Caracas, Venezuela.


    The Space Factory assists the architects and client with the practical organization and design of the theater equipment in support of a wide range of activities, including art expositions, and music and theater rehearsals and performances.


    The new Amarillo music school designed by ADJKM is tucked-in under a large housing slab in Caracas. The program combines theory classes, individual practice rooms, an ensemble rehearsal room, a theater studio and a workshop for instrument making and repairs (luthier). The facades of the larger music ensemble and theater spaces open to the outdoors.


    Rendering of the exterior

    Image courtesy ADJKM

    Architect — ADJKM
    Acoustician — Kahle Acoustics
    Scenographer — The Space Factory
    Project area — 600 m2 GFA (phase 1)
    Construction cost — € 0.5 M (equivalent)
    Status — under construction


  • Competitions

    A selection.

    Design Competitions

    Selected project proposals.

    OCC Spuikwartier

    The Hague, The Netherlands.

    The Spuikwartier is a Design, Build and Maintain project for the new home of the Netherlands Dance Theater, the Residentie Orchestra and the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. (The project is a re-start of the former Spuiforum project, for which Frans was principal scenographer for Ducks Scéno in the team of Neutelings Riedijk Architects until that project was terminated by the city at the end of the Design Development phase.) The proposal builds on the combined footprint of the existing complex designed in 1987 by OMA and Architecten van Mourik, and a former government tower.


    The program includes a 1,300-seat dance and opera theater, a 1,500-seat concert hall (with room for up to 2,500 including standing), a 600-seat chamber music hall for the conservatory and multiple studios for music, dance, recording and composition. In addition to the OCC (Education and Cultural Center), some 50,000 m2 GFA is assigned to a mixed-use commercial development (hotel, offices, apartments and retail).


    The design had to answer a complex mix of design criteria: fit the program within the footprint, improve the Spui square, assure neighborhood-friendly facades, provide 24/7 operational loading docks, and design a building that catalyzes collaborations between dance, music, education and commercial programming. These parameters were paired with a very short construction window (opening 2019), maintaining the existing NDT stage and production house operational until one year before opening, and for good measure, a very tight construction budget.


    The Space Factory provided all theater planning and design services for the team of constuction company Heijmans, taking an active role in the bid process with five rounds of competitive dialogues with the client and future users. The work included continuous functional and financial analysis of the user program and the urban and architectural concepts, input on the logistics of the building (the crux of the project), the design of the performance spaces and studios, including an alternative proposal that extended the programmatic flexibility of the dance theater and concert hall while reducing capital investments, and the development of design concepts for all associated theater technology. For the Schematic Design+ competition phase, ITV in Berlin provided engineering support and technical documentation.


    View from Spuiplein

    View from the Spuiplein

    Construction company — Heijmans Vastgoed
    Architects — Atelier Spuikwartier: Felix Claus Dick van Wageningen Architects, Van Dongen-Koschuch, Geurst & Schulze and West8
    Engineers — ABT
    Owner — City of The Hague
    Acoustician — Müller BBM, Eckard Mommertz
    Scenographer — The Space Factory
    Theater engineer — ITV mbH
    Project area — 28,500 m2 NFA (48,500 m2 GFA)
    Construction cost — € 120 M (estimate)
    Theater equipment cost — € 18 M (estimate)
    Year — 2015; competitive dialogue covering Concept and Schematic Design phases, second prize

    Théâtre de l’Ancre

    Charleroi, Belgium.


    Design competition for the new home of Théâtre de l’Ancre, one of the most prominent production theaters in Belgium’s Wallonia. The project includes a 250 to 400-seat theater, a studio for 100, a rehearsal room, new administration spaces, and artist-in-residence quarters all sprinkled around a large garden. The program is divided over several buildings that form a residential city block just inside Charleroi’s périphérique. The new construction comes in the place of two houses, and holds the two theaters, the rehearsal room, backstage facilities and the public foyer.


    The project proposed by Matador was based on keeping the lush garden, as it is situated in one of the very few unbuilt courtyards in Charleroi. Another factor was the budget, where required square meters and available funds were not quite in balance. The competition guidelines permitted reasoned reduction of surfaces. The proposal consisted of a very compact and smart layout to fit all the functions and circulations. Backstage and public functions twisted Chambord-style around a central two-level courtyard foyer, with the public at the ground floor and the backstage village on the mezzanine above it. The main theater, positioned at the top of the building, had a direct connection to the main garden level. The fluid connection to the garden would provide additional creative possibilities for summer festivals, catering, et cetera.


    Render of the exterior

    Image courtesy of Matador

    Architects — Matador
    Acoustician — Kahle Acoustics
    Landscape designer — Bloc Paysage
    Construction cost — € 4.5 M
    Year — 2016; second prize

    Submerged Theater

    Spree, Berlin, Germany.


    Matter designed a submerged theater for the production of “The Visit of Dogville”, a loose blend of Dürrenmatt’s “The Visit” and Von Trier’s “Dogville” proposed by Max Schumacher. The theater as a space is defined with lighting and images projected on rostra suspended just below the water level, at one time enveloping the stage or its audience, and at other times extending it to surfaces and tower structures on land, leaving the framing of the stage itself to the audience.


    Even though this design did not make it to the finals, perhaps due to its eerie conceptual nature, it was one of the few in which water played a role in the interpretation of the play and the place.


    Render of the performance in the Spree

    Image courtesy of Matter

    Architects — MATTER, André Schmidt
    Director — Max Schumacher
    Year — 2015; open competition


    Zaanstad, The Netherlands.


    The program clusters a pop music stage, a studio theater, an arthouse, a music school, fine arts workshops, a (media) library, studios for the local radio station, and several production, presentation and meeting spaces.


    As flat as Holland may be, the urban implantation sought to connect the building to the ground level and the bel étage of the adjacent city center. The architects of Atelier PRO solved this by putting the main pop space and the deliveries at ground level and by creating a spacious and light-filled atrium at the city entrance.


    The atrium houses the circulation to and between the various entities, mixing and distributing audience(s) (performers, staff, ...) for encounter and liveliness, and separating them at the transition from public to private. The stacked organization provides great functional flexibility of the larger studios, which can be shared between the organizations.


    The pop stage is fitted with a retractable seating element connecting to a wide balcony that wraps around the slightly asymmetrical space. The technical outfit of the room is that of a dressed blackbox theater, facilitating a broad range of events.


    Render of the foyer

    Image courtesy of Atelier PRO

    Architects — Atelier Pro, Lisette Plouvier
    Acoustician — Peutz Groningen
    Project area — 7,500 m2 NFA
    Year — 2015; second prize

    Theater aan de Parade

    Den Bosch, The Netherlands.


    The Theater aan de Parade is a famous stop in the touring world of Dutch theater. Beyond traveling shows, the theater is the unique (co)producer and host of several televised shows and galas. To facilitate broadcast use, the lower parterre can be transformed into a forestage that reaches all the way to the cross-aisle.


    Carnival, a 4-day continuous fest, is a major income resource for the theater. The design proposal of NOAHH and NL Architects expands the flexibility of the studio theater with a landscape of elevators and bridges that interconnect parterre, balconies and staging areas. Both theaters can open towards interstitial foyers and the outdoors, completing the uninterrupted flow of music, people and beer. Last but not least, the terraced facade offers a roof stage, confirming The Parade as the festival and theater heart of Den Bosch.


    The challenge was to fit everything onto the tight footprint and make it work. With only one facade, entries for people, goods and trucks determined the spatial relationships between the theaters, foyers and back of house. The solution was found by lowering the main stage of the theater below street level and taking all deliveries underground via a large platform elevator. With ground level space liberated, the design team could explore its ambitions for the public functions and roles of the building.


    Render of the exterior of the theater

    Image courtesy of NOAHH and NL Architects

    Architects — NOAHH, Patrick Fransen and NL Architects, Kamiel Klaasse
    Acoustician — DHV, Theo Raaijmakers
    Engineers — ABT and Nelissen Ingenieursbureau
    Construction cost — € 32 M
    Year — 2015; finalist

    Bauhaus Museum

    Dessau, Germany.


    The program asked for great flexibility between the permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, and for hands-on experience material labs and workshop areas.


    The design by MATTER foresees modular spaces at all building levels, with a double-height temporary exhibition space directly connected to primary circulation. Designed as a flexible studio, it can be used (independently) for events, colloquiums, soap-box announcements, et cetera. The temporary exhibitions can expand into the adjacent wings.


    The dynamic layout of the permanent and temporary exhibitions makes it possible to separate, combine, juxtapose or mix expositions, themes and storylines as desired by the curators.


    Section through the building

    Image courtesy of MATTER

    Architects — MATTER, André Schmidt
    Year — 2015; open competition

    Musis Sacrum

    Arnhem, The Netherlands.


    Design competition for a new multifunctional 1,200-seat concert space for classical and amplified music, complete reorganization of the back of house and a light renovation of the existing concert hall.


    The proposal by NOAHH and Studio Nuy van Noort created a multifunctional concert hall with several options that would, over time, allow a maximum flexibility in seating and standing arrangements. The new hall was separated from the existing building by a small courtyard space that would become the hinge point of the consolidated backstage. With primary audience and backstage flows on either side, the courtyard became a natural place for encounter as an extension of the foyers, and, when used autonomously, an inspiring semi-outdoor performance space.


    Render of the exterior

    Image courtesy of NOAHH and Studio Nuy van Noort

    Architects — NOAHH, Patrick Fransen & Studio Nuy van Noort, Maartje Nuy
    Acoustician — DHV, Theo Raaijmakers
    Construction cost — € 12 M
    Year — 2015; second prize



    Various projects.

    Past experience & personal references: a selection —

    Theater, music, dance, exposition, experimental

    Taipei Performing Arts Center

    Taipei, Taiwan.

    The project designed by OMA, supported by Kris Yao Artech, includes a 1,500-seat opera, an 800-seat proscenium playhouse for repertory theater, and a large 800-seat studio theater. The OMA design diverges vastly from the usual spatial distribution under a common roof. To maintain as much outdoor public space as possible, all stages and supporting stage technology are joined in a central cube, with the audience spaces protruding to three sides above ground level. The fourth side is reserved for the back-of-house vertical circulations with elevators ranging from several persons to trucks and trailers.


    The layout of the spaces maximizes flexibility and catalyses synergy of theater typologies and scale. The large rehearsal room can be coupled to the rear stage of the Proscenium Playhouse. The side stages of the Grand Theater follow the European cross-stage configuration, yet a fourth side/rear stage allows for a simple rotation of sets. The rear stage can be used by itself, or be coupled to the Multiform Theater. The Grand Theater and Multiform Theater and their side stages can be coupled together to create a Supertheater with an 80-meter deep (or long) stage.


    While at Ducks Scéno, Frans was scenographer and project manager for all design phases starting with the design competition in 2007 through the Construction Documents phase and the first year of construction. Stefan was the leading engineer for the design and development of the project, working in tandem with Frans on the design of the performance spaces and the associated theater machinery until the end of the Design Development phase.


    image of the primary steel structure

    View through the Grand Theater rear-stage trap room

    Architect — OMA
    Acoustician — DHV, Renz van Luxemburg, Theo Raaijmakers
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte for Ducks Scéno for the concept, design, and early construction phases
    Structural Engineer — Arup
    Client — DCA, City of Taipei
    Local Theater Consultant — CSI
    Project area — 40,000 m2 GFA
    Construction cost — € 120 M; theater equipment cost € >25 M (equivalent)
    Status — under construction


    Bordeaux, France.


    The program of the MÉCA, Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la culture en Aquitaine, combines a professional theater with (up to) 250 seats for the OARA, a 50-seat screening room for cinema professionals for the ECLA, and the new home of the FRAC regional contemporary art museum with a 1 500 m2 exposition space. The design by BIG puts the various functions in an arch that straddles the main public atrium, with the FRAC exposition on top, the theater functions in one leg, and the screening room and office spaces in the other.


    OARA assists theater companies with the “montage” of their productions in the final several weeks before going on tour in the region. Even though the theater has a small seat-count, it is designed with stage dimensions, layouts and technologies that correspond those of the regional theaters. A shallow orchestra pit can be used with small music ensembles or with a few rows of audience, suggesting a proscenium stage edge. By removing the seating altogether, the parterre becomes a flat floor for yet other audience configurations, or simply an expanded production area.


    The FRAC is provided with a large exposition area with partial indirect daylight, surrounded by several niches that can be used for smaller themed expositions and video projection. The main space has a flexible routing by use of mobile cimaise dividers. Suspension tracks and mounting points at floors and ceilings expand the possibilities for displaying large and heavy items. An intelligent infrastructure provides a matrix of general, point-source, and theatre lighting, as well as networks for media.


    Frans was scenographer and project manager at Ducks Scéno from the design competition until the Construction Documents phase, working with the architects and the client/user teams on the development of the design and the integration of theater technologies.


    Image of the scale model of the FRAC

    View into the FRAC at an early design stage.

    Architects — BIG and Freaksfreearchitects
    Acoustician — Cabinet Conseil Vincent Hedont
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte for Ducks Scéno from the design competition until the Construction Documents phase
    Client — Région Aquitaine
    Project area — 10,400 m2 GFA
    Construction cost — € 28 M
    Status — under construction

    Danish Architecture Center

    Copenhagen, Denmark.


    The Danish Architecture Center will be at the center of a mixed-use building with offices and apartments. The center has two principal exhibition spaces, the smaller having a high-level security clearance, and a 150-seat auditorium.


    The main exhibition space has ample daylight via a glass ceiling. Its main use is for architectural expositions, but it can also host larger events and parties. The room has a technical floor with ample connectivity and a highly technical ceiling consisting of motorized bars that can be moved along two axes. These bars serve the suspension of exhibition elements and lighting. The small exhibition space has a simpler layout and can be reorganized with lightweight curtains.


    The 150-seat auditorium will be mainly used for presentations and discussions. The room has a flat floor and a small balcony for all the technical functions. In addition, the center has several smaller conference rooms.


    Frans was co-scenographer and project manager for all design and bid phases. The architectural lighting design concepts were developed in close collaboration with Les Éclaireurs.


    Large exposition space; image courtesy OMA.

    Image courtesy OMA

    Architect — OMA
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte as co-scenographer for Ducks Scéno from Schematic Design until early Construction Administration
    Project area — 8,000 m2 GFA (DAC only)
    Construction cost — >120 M Euro
    Year — 2018

    Auditorium Dutilleux

    Bordeaux, France.


    The Auditorium project was initiated and developed by architect Michel Petuaud-Letang. Situated inside a city block two steps from Place Gambetta, the building stacks several functions: an underground car park, backstage facilities, rehearsal rooms and offices, and apartments, topped-off with a pool. The 1,400-seat concert hall is in the layer between the parking garage and the apartments.


    The concert hall has a shoe-box form, yet does not follow the format by the letter: the balconies are floating in front of the walls, adding to spatial qualities of the room. The stage, designed with risers that can hold a large symphony orchestra, is complemented with a very large, almost Wagnerian-style orchestra pit. Additional theater technology and lighting positions at the ceiling makes it possible to use the stage for small-scale opera, operetta and other music-theater events.


    Frans was scenographer for the project from early Schematic Design in 2010 until the inauguration in 2014.


    Staging of Salome; Photo: Bernard Blanc

    Salome at the Auditorium. Photo: Bernard Blanc

    Architect — Agence 4A, Michel Petuaud-Letang, Philippe Duval, Graciane Hastoy
    Acoustician — Kahle Acoustics
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte for Ducks Scéno from Schematic Design until completion
    Client — Private
    Project area — 6,800 m2 NFA
    Construction cost — approximately 30 M Euro
    Year — 2013

    Fondation Louis Vuitton

    Paris, France.


    The Louis Vuitton Foundation includes a very flexible performance and exposition space for about 400 spectators. The flexibility is centered on a seating system that allows storage of the seating below the floor. In addition, the adjustable steepness of the seating rake allows for several configurations, ranging from almost flat to very steep. The latter configuration creates a continuous seating rake with the fixed balcony in the back of the room.


    The theater has extensive audio and video systems for very high resolution viewing and recording.


    Frans was scenographer for the project, and project manager for the phases Schematic Design and Design Development.


    Theater space with flat floor, and view of ceiling and catwalks.

    Theater space, seating stored under the flat floor (left) / Ceiling with tracks and catwalks (right)

    Architect — Gehry Partners and Studios Architecture
    Acousticians — Nagata Acoustics and J.-P. Lamoureux
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte for Ducks Scéno from Schematic Design until completion
    Client — Fondation Louis Vuitton
    Project area — 10,000 m2 NFA
    Construction cost — not disclosed
    Year — October 2014

    Complejo de Acción Social por la Música Simón Bolívar

    Caracas, Venezuela.


    The new principal conservatory for El Sistema consists of two music schools and a conservatory for children and students from age 6 to 26. The project has three main performance spaces and a plethora of practice and ensemble rehearsal rooms, from XXS to XXL.


    The outline of Sala A suggests a shoebox. The stage is surrounded by seating areas in two large side wall niches, as well as extended choir seating to the sides and rear of the orchestra. The goal of more than 1,900 seats is reached through a large main frontal balcony around and above the parterre. The first rows of the side and rear seating can be lowered to to create an extended stage for up to 400 (!!) musicians. The stage can also be extended into the lower parterre, for spatial ensemble configurations and large recording and broadcast projects.


    Sala B leans more towards an in-the-round form, with several terraces and balconies providing space for 1,300 seats around a central stage. The connection between the stage and audience borrows from the flat-floor theaters, with the first row at stage level. This arrangement emphasizes a direct and informal relationship between the musicians and audience.


    The third space is a flexible 500-seater for experimental music. The room is a mixture between a blackbox theater and a concert space. Retractable seating in the lower parterre makes it possible to extend the stage for standing room or for ensembles with extensive instrumentations. The room will also be used for electronic music or amplified concerts. Extensive variable acoustics are handled from a tension-wire grid that spans the entire room.


    Frans was scenographer and project manager for the phases Schematic Design, Design Development and Construction Documents, working directly with ADJKM, client and users, as well as other members of the Design Team.


    Rendering of Sala A

    Sala A; rendering courtesy ADJKM

    Architect — ADJKM
    Acousticians — Nagata Acoustics and Bob Mahony
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte for Ducks Scéno for all design phases
    Project area — 53,000 m2 GFA
    Construction cost — € >200 M (equivalent)
    Status — on hold after the Construction Documents phase

    Centro de Formación Docente

    Caracas, Venezuela.


    The CFD was already in Design Development when Ducks Scéno was invited to assist the Client, the architects of VCA and users to further define the design of the 750-seat concert hall and its technical support spaces. The scope included extensive sightline and circulation optimization studies.


    The project is on a very narrow site directly adjacent to the existing CASM conservatory. The concert hall is wedged between the side walls of the building, pushing all public and artist circulation below the hall. Despite the narrow width, the architects succeeded in placing the stage in a relatively central position in the room, with ample audience and choir seating behind the stage over several interlocked balconies. Narrow side-balconies connect the two sides of the room and complete the internal circulation.


    Frans was scenographer and project manager for the design phases Design Development and Construction Documents, and the early construction phases.


    Rendering of the concert hall

    Concert hall of the music teachers school; rendering courtesy VCA

    Architect — VCA
    Acousticians — Nagata Acoustics and Bob Mahony
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte for Ducks Scéno for all design and early construction phases
    Project area — 20,000 m2 GFA
    Construction cost — undisclosed
    Status — on hold after the Construction Documents phase (primary structure under construction)

    CRT’s Anzoategui & Bolívar

    Puerto la Cruz and Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela.


    The Centro Régional Tipo projects have two components: a music school (conservatory) and a 1,000-seat concert space. The point of departure of the design by ADJKM is the definition of typologies of the principal spaces of the school and the concert hall in such a way that their design can be copied to several sites throughout the country. The differences between the projects are then given by the local/urban setting and site, which influences the positioning of the school in relation to the concert hall, and the primary circulation to and around the building blocks. Other architectural differences can be found in the use of materials, color and lighting.


    The Anzoategui project in the coastal city of Puerto la Cruz is situated at the edge of the city near the sea, and is partly embedded in the dune landscape. The new building will have a close connection to a 1950’s bandshell in the adjacent park. The Bolívar project in Puerto Ordaz in the south-east of Venezuela occupies a city block in the center of the city. The building forms one of the four facades of Plaza del Hierro.


    Frans was scenographer and project manager for the phases Schematic Design and Design Development.


    Section through the concert hall

    Section through the concert hall. Rendering courtesy ADJKM

    Architect — ADJKM
    Acousticians — Nagata Acoustics and Bob Mahony
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte for Ducks Scéno for all phases from Concept Design through Design Development
    Project area — 15,000 m2 GFA
    Construction cost — undisclosed (scenography >5 M Euro equivalent)
    Status — on hold after the Design Development phase

    Prada Largo Isarco

    Milan, Italy.


    Redevelopment of a brown-field site into a state-of-the art gallery complex for the collection of the Fondation Prada. The project includes a theater for film and performing arts, and a dozen very distinct exposition spaces, small, large, new, renovated and repurposed.


    Frans was co-scenographer and project manager for the phases Schematic Design, Design Development and Construction Documents. The scope included the architectural and scenographic lighting design, which was developed in close collaboration with Lucas Goy of Les Éclaireurs.


    Image Bas Princen, courtesy OMA

    Architect — OMA
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte as co-scenographer for Ducks Scéno from Schematic Design until Construction Documents
    Project area — 28,000 m2 GFA
    Construction cost — undisclosed
    Year — 2015 (new exposition tower under construction)

    Danish Radio Koncerthuset

    Copenhagen, Denmark.


    The concert house for the Danish Radio, designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, is the home of the radio’s music ensembles and the basis for all music recording and live broadcast, including pop and rock, jazz and classical.


    Studio 1 is a 1,800-seat vineyard-style concert hall. The hall features a large motorized acoustical reflector with integrated orchestra lighting, and hoists for microphones, loudspeakers and lighting. A large curtain at the perimeter of the room allows a broad instrumentation, from acoustical to heavily amplified.


    Three large music studios fit in the footprint below the concert hall. The studios serve a broad range of music and events, with some initial focus points: Studio 2 for classical music (same stage as the concert hall), Studio 3 for jazz (big band) and improvised music, and Studio 4 for choir and chamber music. Isolation booths placed around the studios provide ample visual connections between the spaces. The acoustics of the studios are greatly variable with the push of a button. The four sound control rooms are identical in size and shape, except for their color schemes.


    While at Ducks Scéno, Stefan worked as stage machinery engineer from the early design stages until Tender, developing the concepts for the stage design, the engineering of the movable canopy and the various systems for variable acoustics in the four studios. Frans was project manager for most of the Construction Administration phase while at Ducks Scéno, assisting the architects and the Danish Radio client team with the development and integration of the ongoing design and the coordination with the users and contractors.


    Studio 1; 1800-seat concert hall

    View from behind the stage

    Architects — Ateliers Jean Nouvel
    Owner — Danish Radio
    Acoustician — Nagata Acoustics
    Scenographer — Frans Swarte for Ducks Scéno for the Construction Administration phase, assisted by ITV mbH
    Project area — 20,000 m2
    Construction cost — € 300+ M
    Theater equipment cost — € 8++ M
    Year — 2009


    Leicester, United Kingdom.


    The Curve project reconnects the city to the stage. There are two performance spaces: a classic 750-seat proscenium theater, and a 350-seat studio theater. The project considers the stage as the focal point for interior and exterior viewing. Both theaters connect to the central stage tower with fire curtains and (large) acoustical shutters. The stage has no permanent walls to the outside, and can thus be considered as part of the public circulation of the building.


    Stefan worked on the design phases while at Ducks Scéno, and is responsible for the technical design concepts of one of Britain’s first fully motorized stage houses. Frans was project manager for the Construction Administration phase, assisting the architects, client and users with the implementation of the design. CharcoalBlue acted as the local consultant, taking care of the integration of the AV and Stage Lighting systems.


    View through the stage tower and foyer

    Architect — Viñoly Architects
    Acoustician — Kahle Acoustics
    Scenographer — For Ducks Scéno: Stefan Abromeit as stage engineer for the design phases; Frans Swarte as project manager for the Construction Administration and Commissioning phases
    UK theater consultant — CharcoalBlue
    Project area — 11,000 m2 GFA
    Construction cost — £ 57 M (theater equipment estimate – £ >6 M)
    Year — 2008

    Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center

    Troy NY, USA.


    The program at EMPAC combines research and performance in the fields of music, sound and image, in the widest imaginable definitions. The new facilities are inspired by institutions like Ircam in Paris and ZKM in Karlsruhe. The building has f our spaces: a 1,200-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theater, and two large studios: a smaller one for the ears (white), and a larger one for the eyes (black).


    Frans developed the system architecture for the AV and media systems from the competition phase until the end of Design Development. The planning for the building started in 2002, when the development of media networks was splintered at best. The design challenge put forward by the client was to anticipate network protocols and minimize the copper footprint, not just because of cost, but for the sake of steering developments towards smarter networks (while respecting legacy sonology apparatus). By the time the building opened, the first technical proposals for networking of sound and video were being considered by technical standards committees.


    Large studio

    Studio for the eyes

    Architects — Grimshaw with DBB
    Owner — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Acoustician — Kirkegaard Associates
    Audio, video and media systems design — Frans Swarte for Kirkegaard Associates from design competition towards the end of Design Development
    Theater consultant — FDA
    Project area — 220,000 sq ft / 20,000 m2 GFA
    Construction cost — $ 140 M
    Year — 2008

    Casa da Música

    Porto, Portugal.


    The Casa da Música holds a 1,200-seat concert hall for symphonic and contemporary music, a 400-seat multi-music hall, studios for media projects, rehearsal rooms and various public foyers/exposition spaces/…. The spaces were carefully carved into a monolithic building with plenty opportunities to carefully break the strict front/back of house separation.


    While at Ducks Scéno, Stefan was lead engineer of the project, working closely with the architects at OMA on all theater engineering aspects. The work included the development of curtain systems to cover the very large windows at the ends of the concert hall.


    Concert Hall.

    The 1200-seat Concert hall

    Architects — OMA
    Owner — City of Porto
    Acoustician — DHV, Renz van Luxemburg, Theo Raaijmakers
    Scenographer — Ducks Scéno
    Project area — 8,000 m2 GFA
    Construction cost — € 55 M
    Year — 2005


Close Scroll


Barbara Fol‑Gutierrez


Barbara was raised in two different cultures, French and Chilean. Surrounded by Western classical and traditional Andean music, as well as South-American paintings and sculptures, she ventured very early on into several art forms: taking music and dance lessons at local schools, and teaching herself drawing techniques. To further develop her artistic interests, she explored photography, painting, and cinema, with scenography as common subject.

Her attraction to construction started with building huts and tents as a child, which incited her interest in the design of larger spaces. She graduated in 2014 with a Masters Degree in Architecture from ENSAG in Grenoble on the topic of “Aedification, grands territoires, villes” (Construction, countryside, cities), where she focused, including during her exchange year in Munich, on environmental aspects of urbanism. During that time, she developed a sense for simple esthetics and ambiance, and a strong empathy for the needs of future residents and users of designed spaces.

Scenography, as meeting point between the arts and architecture, became the common denominator for artistic side projects during her studies, and it still is today. Current personal endeavors include roles as scenarist, storyboarder, set designer and producer of several small-scale music and theater productions. As scenographer, she currently works on a conceptual opera production in collaboration with a renowned lighting and video designer.

At The Space Factory, Barbara is architect and scenographer. Her focus is on the organization of the building, the design of the performance spaces, and the research and development of architectural projects.

Barbara is bilingual French and Spanish, speaks English and can understand German.


Frans Swarte


Frans grew up surrounded by music and theater. Listening to read-throughs from the landing of the stairs, drama and operetta rehearsals marked the weekly cycle. Encouraged by technicians at the local theater, he ventured into lighting design in his teens, working on plays by Albee and Pinter directed by his father, a production of Ubu Roi and several classical and contemporary dance performances.

With avid cello playing and analytical ears, Frans was admitted to the recording program at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague (Tonmeister degree). After working in recording, live sound, lighting design and theater, Frans developed his design consulting skills at Kirkegaard Associates in Chicago where he became associate and senior consultant in electro-acoustics. Six years later he joined the French firm Ducks Scéno as managing partner, spearheading the scenography of many high-profile projects in Europe, Asia and South America.

With The Space Factory, Frans continues his collaborations with architects, acousticians, engineers, owners and users in the process of transforming artistic and architectural ambitions into spaces and places of creation, presentation and encounter. His strong background in music and a good understanding of acoustics add value to the design conversation.

Frans is known for separating wheat from chaff with candor and wit. He has a keen interest in contemporary architecture and design, and is perpetually motivated by the forces of music and theater as means of positive exchange and inclusiveness. He works as a catalyst of innovation by steering design discussions towards ideas, research and concepts that go beyond the obvious and ordinary.

Frans speaks Dutch, English, French and German.


Marie Béraud


Marie holds a MS in Mechanical Engineering from INSA Lyon. She developed an interest in the technical and artistic aspects of theater when volunteering at the small university performance venue during her studies. While gaining experience with theater, visual arts and photography, Marie explored the links between the technical world of engineering and the artistic world of the performing arts. She pursued her interest in scenography by adding one year and specialized in Theater Machinery and Theater Production at ENSATT.

Both during and after her studies, Marie worked at the Lyon Opera House in production positions as well as at the scene shop, where she engineered stage sets and props based on reinforced cardboard to make them lighter, leaner and greener. At the Maison de la Danse, she interned as an assistant to the Production Director for the technical preparation of national and international programming, and was given the opportunity to assist the technical team on stage.

She subsequently worked as project engineer for Scénétec, a regional designer and installer of stage machinery systems.

Marie is a regular user and spectator of the performing arts in all of its forms. From drama theater to circus and music, she closely follows the perpetually cross-disciplinary innovation of our field.

At The Space Factory, Marie will develop the stage machinery designs for recently acquired projects, including the Cité de la Musique in Geneva, and guide the coordination of the construction phases of ongoing projects, such as the The Lyric Theatre Complex in Hong Kong.

Marie speaks French and English, understands Italian and is learning Japanese.


Philip Soden

Collaborating Consultant.

When The Space Factory took over the work of Carr & Angier for the Lyric Theatre Complex in Hong Kong (with UN Studio and AD+RG Architects), Philip Soden, keeper of indispensable project memory, became collaborating consultant responsible for AV, production and lighting packages.

Before coming to Hong Kong, Philip was Production Manager at the Adelaide Festival Centre in South Australia for both the Centre’s performance venues and for the (then) biennial Adelaide Festival. From 1988 to 2011 he was engaged by the HK Academy for Performing Arts as Technical Director, Director of Venues and Associate Director (Operations). His experience includes sound, lighting and production management as well as venue and facilities management. His most significant achievement at the Academy was as Project Director for the UNESCO award-winning restoration of Bethanie, a former French Mission sanatorium built in 1875. More recently he led the project team for the successful conversion of an open-air theatre into the 600 seat Hong Kong Jockey Club Amphitheatre.

In October 2007, he was awarded the HKSAR Medal of Honour for his contribution to arts and culture in Hong Kong.

Frans and Philip worked previously together on performing arts components of the earlier design program of the Central Police Station project by Herzog & de Meuron (when Frans worked for Ducks Scéno). Today, Philip is based in Queensland, Australia, and works as an independent theatre consultant. His clients include NCC Singapore, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Fringe Club, Shanghai Centre Theatre and Jakarta International Expo.

The collaboration continues under the header of The Space Factory, with a focus on performing arts projects in the Asia-Pacific region.



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Whether you are an architect, designer, engineer, arts administrator, user or owner, The Space Factory could be just the right resource for your project.


Contact us to find out.


5 rue Pizay rdc

F-69001 Lyon



+33 4 78 30 00 59


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