Open AIr Theater

The proposed design for a new open air theater in Hulst is a stage-set, an installation and a landscape design at once. Recognizing the importance of the historic monument the design proposal is an addition to the monument with the ephemeral character of an installation. This stage set is narrated in 6 scenes.

Scene 1:
A couple is walking along the ramparts in the fall. The trees on the ramparts start loosing their leafs. The sun is low in the sky, mild light falls in between the trees on the pathways. The couple strolls along the paths is engaged into conversation, suddenly their a gaze is caught by bright branches emerging from the ruins. The couple pauses. He repeats his last sentence, not knowing why, just to change to another subject. She watches him with a smile.

Scene 2:
A kid swings around the pols on the steps next to the water-side. One hand one the pol: the other hand up in the air: “Mama, look, I'm spinning and turning!” Mum looks to the other side. The cute actor is getting ready for his part. The Montagues are not kidding this time!

Scene 3:
School kids have a day off and go for an excursion to see Bierkai and the new open air theater. It's the first sunny day after a long winter. The trees have no leaves yet and the program me for the summer events in the theater is not known to them. The kids run to the large concrete steps warmed in the spring sun. They sit, stand, jump, run, hid and look back onto the water and the city. The class teacher read her lines: Waiting for Godot.

Scene 4:
She wanted to meet with him somewhere cool. She had spent about half of the afternoon to get ready half involved in sending her best friend forever photographic updates of her makeup, her wardrobe and her shoes. Did he really suggest the new open air theater? I'm mean come on, this is for stone-age people and older! She had been there before the renovation and remembered her dad's stories on the past glory of this great trades city. Boring stuff, can be read at wikipedia anytime. Later, as she walked to the seating area. He was there with a bunch of skater friends. As their boards clicked under their feet trying to skate on the steps, she hesitated. What was he thinking? Me a skater-chick? Come on, this is for teenage kids! That moment her best friend forever (the other one) had sent her a picture with her latest wardrobe.

Scene 5:
A man walks along the ramparts surrounding the stage. The ruins separate him from some soft theatrical voices emerging behind. His gaze is caught by the inert geometric trees in front of him. He is hypnotized by their harmonious branches. Moonlight.The pale shade of a woman emerges from hiding behind the trees. Still astonished by the sparks of light between the branches he blindly decides to follow her in the forest of trunks and all of a sudden the reveal of the truth: nothing but an owl singing to the moon.

Scene 6:
In spring, an old couple is walking by the water slowly. The sunlight is getting warmer and comfortable in the season. They look up onto the rampart, and there are blossoms as well as new green leaves on top of the hills. The white structures on the front pop out from the colorful background, glowing under the sunlight. Two birds sit down on top of the highest branches. When she points them out to him the birds are gone.

Authors: Aurel von Richthofen
with Yiwen Zhang

Place: Hulst, The Netherlands
year: 2013
Size: 160m2

Type: Competition
Client: Gemeente Hulst


Summer (top) and winter (bottom) configuration of the open air theater
section through existing ruin and theater
plan of the stage set
narrative 1

BAK Pavillion 2010

The design concept for the German Architects Chamber pavilion is composed of a complex distribution of regular polyhedral elements. Octahedrons and tetrahedrons interlock spatially like 3 dimensional tiles following a non-Carthesian grid.


Finalist in 2 stage, international, cross-disciplinary design competition for a new signage and orientation system for the Castles and Gardens of Saxony, in Germany in 2010 – 2011 (Informations- und Leitsystem für die Schlößer und Gärten Sachsens). aurelVR and Studio Laucke Siebein teamed up and entered the project 'Tournesol'.

Warsaw Rotunda

Warsaw Rotunda is a renovation and a tactical urban space project at once. The design takes an existing building, strips its facade and turns its inner space into an observation platform. The reversal of a closed hermetic space into an open public lantern reclaims a central place in Warsaw for the public.

House Like Her

The House Like Her – an artist studio and home – is located by the sea south of Muscat along the magnificent coastline of the Indian Ocean between Quriat and Sur. Linked by the new coastal high-way to the capital the location offers the serenity and unspoilt beauty unique to Oman.

aurelVR redesign

Johanna Siebein and Aurel von Richthofen developed the new corporate identity for aurelVR. The CI includes a new logo constructed from parallel lines reflecting the firm's analytic and constructive approach to design. A first product is a new publication of the research, teaching and design activities of aurelVR. The 92 page booklet features three sections of different width and is produced in a small series. The new CI was also applied to relaunch the website implemented in Drupal by Tino Urbiks.

Portfolio 2009-2013

This portfolio collects three lines of investigation explored simultaneously and mutually re-enforcing the work produced by aurelVR during 2009-2013: Research, Teaching and Practice. Research on urbanization in Oman and the Gulf marks a new field of investigation of design processes and spatial organization beyond form. Teaching expands in the same direction using digital tools to support design and research. The design part, finally, collects various projects done with aurelVR in Berlin and Oman.