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current feature: icon it or not?

The new Centre for Performing Arts proposed for Bermuda is not yet a reality but much research is being undertaken to ensure the Centre is the right fit for Bermuda and the creative community and public it is intended to serve.

Naturally, there is much  curiosity about it with people providing their opinions on whether or not the structure should be iconic and grand or just practical. Setting aside the pesky detail of fundraising, it seems a key aspect of the Centre ought to be that it serves as a focal point for a variety of activities so that there is a liveliness and vibrancy about it at all times. In other words, give residents and visitors reasons to use the facility when there is no performance or film or play going on.

An example of this is the Lux in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The Lux is primarily a cinema screening a wide variety of the film festival and first run types of films but it operates a theatre and cafe too. (Images courtesy of


Another good example is the Eye Institute in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, which is a merger of the Filmmuseum, Holland Film, Film Bank and the Dutch Institute for Film Education. Located on the riverside, it is Amsterdam's film institute and museum. It has cinemas, display areas for permanent and visiting exhibits and participatory activities, a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating and a bar. Again, the Eye, as it is known, generates foot traffic and revenue separate from the scheduled film screenings. (Images courtesy of the writer's BlackBerry.)

The Kadare Cultural Center in Yurihonjo City, Japan, as described in this designboom article, chiaki arai: kadare cultural center, is an impressive piece of architecture housing a theatre, library, planetarium, recording studio, community centre and conference rooms. The theatre alone has three different configurations. Not having been to Japan, I cannot pass an opinion on the Center's actual use but the range of possibilities is wide given the designed spaces; flexibility is key. (Images courtesy of Chiaki Arai Urban and Architectural Design.)

The message? In these times, a one trick pony won't do. Bermuda's Centre for Performing Arts will need to concentrate on having some element of multiple use and flexibility, as well as multiple revenue streams. The correct balance will not be easy to achieve given that it cannot also be all things to all people.

In the circumstances, whether or not the Centre is an iconic piece of architecture might take a bit of a backseat, perhaps, to other pressing issues.