Almere is both a city of the arts and an artificial city. Its roughly 180,000 inhabitants live on built up land – areas that since 1975 have been reclaimed from the Zuider Zee. The proximity of the town to Amsterdam, which lies just 25 km to the west, has resulted in strong growth. Only 20 years after its foundation, Almere is more than just a dormitory town, though, as is indicated by the competition to create a new centre with various cultural facilities. The competition was won in 1994 by Rem Koolhaas (OMA). Since then, numerous internationally renowned architects have realized projects in Almere in addition to OMA: along the embankment promenade, one can admire the works of Mecanoo, Christian de Portzamparc, Claus en Kaan, Alsop + Störmer, and René van Zuuk. Standing amid this display of architectural feats, the new civic theatre and arts centre by SANAA is a comparatively restrained work.