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The Stadthalle in Heidelberg. (Picture: City of Heidelberg)

Stadthalle: Modernization as a hall of concerts and culture

The civic center (Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg) has served as a venue for a wide variety of events in the city since 1903. But the building on the banks of the River Neckar is showing its age and will undergo a comprehensive two-year interior renovation beginning in mid-2019. The central and finance committee of Heidelberg’s municipal council approved by a substantial majority the renovation concept submitted by the renowned architectural firm Waechter + Waechter from Darmstadt in March 2018. With its historic atmosphere, the Stadthalle will in future be able to focus on its strengths – as Heidelberg’s “reception room”, as a venue for world-class cultural events, and for use by cultural initiatives, associations and local people. In addition, by hosting evening receptions, the Stadthalle will provide an ideal complement to the new convention center. In the future, however, conferences and conventions will move from the Stadthalle to the new convention center in Bahnstadt.

Ideal setting for a wide range of uses

The renovation of the Stadthalle will return it more closely to its original state. Concert facilities will be vastly improved for the public and the performers alike. The Stadthalle would thus meet the urgent need for an appropriate venue for concert events in the city, including the Heidelberger Frühling music festival. Showcasing around 130 events and attracting over 46,000 visitors, this is one of the biggest concert festivals in Germany.

The Stadthalle would also provide excellent facilities for the city’s own Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as for the city’s many cultural initiatives and associations, including Youth Dance Day, and for society balls, festivals and receptions

Movable floors for greater flexibility

Flexible use of the Stadthalle will be ensured by installing movable floors. This will permit both tiered seating and a continuous level space. Planning will take into account the requirements of current events as well as of those in the future. Visitors will have a better view of the stage from their seats and will benefit from significantly improved acoustics. All the refurbishment is restricted to the interior of the building. The façade of the Stadthalle will remain unchanged.

Looking to the future

The renovation is supported by an initiative formed from among the patrons and sponsors of the “Heidelberger Frühling” music festival. Several major donors have undertaken to shoulder the cost of renovating the Stadthalle which is expected to amount to 28 million euros. They are Wolfgang Marguerre, Dr. Manfred Lautenschläger, Dr. Jobst Wellensiek, Prof. Dr. Dietrich Götze, Dr. Renate Keysser-Götze, Günter Reimann-Dubbers and Achim Wessendorf. Wolfgang Marguerre has pledged the lion’s share. As with the successful renovation of the theater, the city council has approved the transfer of the Stadthalle and the lot on which it stands to the Theater and Orchestra Foundation. This offers tax benefits for the City as the builder and also makes it possible to request donations for the project. The foundation is managed by the City of Heidelberg.

The urgent need for renovation of the Stadthalle requires renovation work to begin in mid-2019. The work planned for the Stadthalle’s interior is expected to take about two years. If renovation work were to be started at a later date, it might not be possible to avoid temporary closures of individual areas. A further advantage of starting renovation work at this date is that the new convention center in Bahnstadt will be completed at the same time. The synergies and marketing potential of the two buildings could therefore be put to optimum use once the convention center opens its doors. A municipal operating company, as yet to be set up, will be responsible for running the Stadthalle in a way that is compatible with the new convention center.