Sleeping Beauty music venue wakes up Nijmegen’s Central Station area

Nijmegen’s iconic music venue Doornroosje — named for Sleeping Beauty, in Dutch — has relocated to purpose-built new premises. Located near the city’s central railway station, this innovative landmark construction is also a home from home for hundreds of students and supports the city’s commuters with ample indoor bicycle parking. It is a striking example of the ability of clever design to serve a number of potentially conflicting needs, setting the tone for the ongoing redevelopment of the area.

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Doornroosje, in Nijmegen, is one of the Netherlands’ leading music venues. © Creative Commons Doornroosje, in Nijmegen, is one of the Netherlands’ leading music venues. © Creative Commons

" This eye-catching new residence for Doornroosje, which also includes student accommodation and a large bike&ride facility, is a striking first expression of Nijmegen’s plans to redevelop this neighbourhood for a variety of purposes. "

Paul Matthieu, Manager Development City Centre, Municipality of Nijmegen

Doornroosje moved into its new home in 2014, marking the occasion with an opening concert in October. The epic housewarming party rang in a new era in the history of this popular music venue, following four decades of activity in an old school building outside the city centre.

The new edifice is a first step in the implementation of the city’s plan to foster new, diversified activity in the vicinity of the central railway station, a neighbourhood that no longer provided the broad range of residential, economic and recreational services a vibrant urban area can support. 

Rise and shine

Since the makeover, Doornroosje has developed into one of the Netherlands’ leading music venues. It attracted some 133 000 visitors in 2015 — more than twice the number recorded prior to the move. With a total capacity of 1 500 places, it is the largest facility of this kind in the East Netherlands, drawing nearly half of its attendance from out of town. 

This influx of visitors is helping to restore a dynamic vibe in the central station area. The move enabled Doornroosje to create new jobs (15 full-time equivalents), but the impact on employment is much wider, as many other businesses — in catering or hospitality, for example — benefit from the added interest in the area. 
The venue’s visitors jointly spend some EUR 2 million annually outside the building itself, according to estimates. Doornroosje itself buys in goods and services from a number of local businesses. In addition, it manages activities in other locations around Nijmegen, which attracted some 164 000 additional visitors in 2015, contributing to the economic development of the city as a whole. 

However, Doornroosje and its attractions are only part of the picture. The new building also hosts ample student accommodation, as well as a huge ‘bike&ride’ facility that notably serves commuters using the railway station. ERDF support for its construction focused more specifically on the part designed for music venue.

Lifting the enchantment

On the face of it, a noisy ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and hundreds of students that need their sleep might make unlikely bedfellows, but innovative solutions were found to make this cohabitation possible. The entire construction was placed on springs to dampen and reduce noise and vibration — from the outside in, from the inside out and up towards the residential floors, and between the venue’s two separate halls, enabling it to run several activities in parallel.

Innovation also solved another key problem: the lack of space for trucks and vans to turn in the busy station area. Doornroosje benefits from a truck rotation system that lifts the entire vehicle and turns it around. It is the only music venue in Europe that provides this possibility.

Other features include floors, ceilings and wall designed to ensure that Doornroosje’s sound systems are not affected by electromagnetic fields from passing trains. Particularly thick layers of concrete with extra reinforcements were used to avoid interference. 

Similar attention was dedicated to aspects such as air circulation, where a sophisticated system has been put in place to ventilate the entire venue. Logistics were specifically taken into consideration during the design phase in order to permit a high level of efficiency, with specific improvements made to facilitate tasks as varied as box office operations, backstage handling, and cleaning. 

The revamped Doornroosje did not go unnoticed. It was selected as the Netherlands’ music venue of the year twice in a row, in 2014 and 2015, and management reports that it is attracting interest from artists of international renown.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Doornroosje: Enchanted by Sleeping Beauty” is EUR 13 298 483, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 961 428 through the “East Netherlands” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. 


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