A long term perspective for the Bühnen Köln, the Depot, and the independent scene

Bühnen Köln_institution
Denny Muller
Köln I Image: HPP Architekten, Bühnen Köln


Since 2014, actori has been working closely with Bühnen Köln, supporting the organisation in the development of a future concept for the time after the general renovation of the main venue at Offenbachplatz. The assignment was to develop the stages into a sustainable and optimised operation that considers all the different operational and organisational aspects. During the collaboration, various aspects such as resource and personnel requirements in a refurbished stage operation with new venues, stage locations and outdoor venues, optimised workshops, integration of the independent scene as well as the future of dance in Cologne were examined in more detail. With the principle decision made based on the studies (2023), the Council gave the green light for the new start of Bühnen Köln at Offenbachplatz from the 2024/25 season on, the long-term lease of the Depot in Cologne-Mülheim and the establishment of a separate dance division.


"One of the most important cultural policy decisions of this decade. [...]. The new start is the right time to make the stages a three-part house. [...]. This is another way in which we will sustainably develop the cultural location."

Henriette Reker, mayoress city of Cologne


Over the multi-year cooperation, different aspects were examined: The focus of the first study in 2013/14 was the investigation of possible future scenarios for stage operations after reopening. Based on defined programme considerations, the operation was comprehensively analysed in order to identify possible consequences and optimisation possibilities, and to evaluate the follow-up costs for the operation after the completion of the renovation. The goal was to transparently present a decision-making framework for the future operation of the theatre. The scenarios were designed in detail based on different criteria (e.g. number of productions and performances, financial requirements, infrastructural resources) and examined for their monetary and non-monetary effects. Due to the duration of the renovations, the results of the organisational study were updated in 2019/20 and then continued in an accompanying process until the decision in 2023. This enabled interim changes (e.g. construction of new workshops, handling of the outdoor venue and the depot) to be taken into account and to show how the stages can be structured to become a powerful and efficient cultural operation with the stage centre at Offenbachplatz after the conclusion of the significantly extended interim. In preparation for the political decision, the "actori working group" met several times. Here, the results of the expert opinions were explained and discussed. actori was part of the working group to provide further support with expertise in the decision-making and design.

Added Value

  • The study was the basis for the council decision on the future set-up of the stage company, which was made in 2023. The foundation for this was also a long process of preparing the decision within the framework of the actori working group.
  • The expert report forms the basis for the development of the stages into an even more powerful and efficient cultural operation after the conclusion of the significantly prolonged interim.
  • The studies form the basis for the number of locations for stage operations and in particular the further use and development of the Depot location in Mühlheim.
  • With the principle decision, the resolution for the development of a permanent dance division in Cologne was created.

Source: StadtKoeln.de, KölnischeRundschau.de, WDR.de


The projects have been implemented by Tassilo von Scheling, Consultant, Marietta Schönberg, Project Management, Dr. Nora Pähler vor der Holte, Project Management, Frank Schellenberg, Managing Director.

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