Project team:

Client: Albi Town Council, Albi/F
Architects: Dominique Perrault Architecture, Paris/F
Local architect: Christian Astruc Architects, Gaillac/F
Lighting design: Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost
Lighting engineering: Jean-Paul Lamoureux
Structural engineering: VP Green
Mechanical engineering: Etco
Auditorium design: Changement à vue
Acoustics: Jean-Paul Lamoureux

Products applied:

Sammode

22. May 2015

Transparency is a question of the light

Text: Alison Ritter
Photos: Vincent Boutin, Georges Fessy

The Grand Théâtre in the mediaeval city of Albi/F is already transforming the texture of the city as well as its cultural influence. Visually, the building is as dramatic as what goes on inside it. Located on the outskirts of the historic centre, it stands proud as an outstanding architectural symbol, designed and equipped to house and promote performing arts and the creativity they are born from. Nevertheless, its presence and its lighting are modest and human-scale, allowing this unique addition to the mediaeval city to blend in comfortably.

Albi, a small town in the south of France, is a Unesco World Heritage Site and birthplace of Toulouse Lautrec. Its origins date as far back as the Bronze Age (3000 to 600 BC). Integrating a new building required intricate planning and consideration of the sensitive historic setting. The urban planning of the area incorporates the Place de l’Amitié entre les Peuples, where the theatre is located, as well as Place Lapérouse with its gardens and a new water feature designed by artist Jeppe Hein. The Grand Théâtre is central to the “Cordeliers Project”, which aims to provide the city with a new cultural centre. Besides the stunning new theatre with a large auditorium to seat 900 plus an experimental space to seat 250 plus administration and logistic areas, foyers and a restaurant, the cultural complex includes a cinema complex with eight screening rooms and an underground car park. The cultural complex is built around the Grand Théâtre, which is accessible via a series of public spaces which punctuate a pedestrian route from the cathedral to the Rochegude Park. Different key buildings have been identified as forming part of the cultural complex: the preserved Athanor cinema building, for example, has been modified to create the entrance to the new cinema complex. The entrance forms the visible part of an iceberg, offering a large lobby and eventually shops and a café at square level and the screening rooms below ground. This allows the exterior public space to remain open and available for urban activity. The theatre is a compact volume, which allows it to fit well into its urban surroundings. The façade that opens onto the square is fully glazed like a big window towards the city.[…]

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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 97

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