Theatre and Auditorium in Poitiers / JLCG Arquitectos

© FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

Architects: João Luís Carrilho da Graça
Location: , France
Project Team: Giulia de Appolonia, João Trindade, Nicola Marchi, Giorgio Santagostino, João Manuel Alves, Mónica Margarido, Tiago Castela, architects; Miguel Casal Ribeiro, Emanuel Romão, junior architects (project design) Tiago Castela, João Manuel Alves, Marcos Roque, Susana Rato, Ana Lobo Martins, Paulo Costa, Miguel Costa, Inês Vieira da Silva, Inês Cortesão, Pedro Teixeira de Melo, Joanna Malitzki, Filipe Homem, architects; Paula Miranda, Frederique Petit, Elena Miret, Julieta Cunha, Emanuel Romão, Natacha Viveiros, Pedro Homem, Rui Sabino de Sousa, Annette Goehringer, junior architects (construction) Francisco Freire, Filipe Homem, Ana Lobo Martins, Frederico Santos, Sylvain Grasset, Raquel Morais, Andreia de Sá, architects; Nuno Pinto, graphic
Operation Architect: Hervé Beaudouin
Landscape: GLOBAL – João Gomes da Silva
Graphic Design: P-06 ATELIER, Nuno Gusmão
Structural Engineering: DL Structures
Acoustics: COMMINS ACOUSTICS WORKSHOP – Daniel Commins
Scenography: Scéne, Jean-Hugues Manoury, Dominique Borlot
Electrical & Plumbing Planning: Yac Ingénierie / William Gaudais
Project Area: 32,000 sqm
Budget: 45,000,000 €
Project Year: 2000-2008
Photographs: FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

© FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

Poitiers: Building a theatre and an auditorium

Deciding what is essential in a given programme for a given place should be the primary objective of every single architecture project – and nothing else. This may be even more valid when a public building is concerned, as it involves a strong and vibrant interaction with the city as “work in progress”.

The building should be as simple as possible, playing a distinctive role as catalyst and support for artistic activities and events, and contributing to social interaction. It should have a clear, strong but discreet presence and image in the city, conveying information about its own content that can be read at different levels.

section 01

As Simple as Possible

The limestone platform open to the public ensures a spatial continuity with the city and a material homogeneity with the surroundings. Slightly suspended above it lie the parallelepiped volumes of the building, covered with white matt glass. This double skin – concrete/glass – was the only “luxury” we indulged in, for it works as a medium and allows mutations in the building exterior – of color, light, image… on the inside, the possibility of communication.

© FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

The Auditorium

Designing a hall exclusively dedicated to music contributed to an optimal acoustic and architectural result.

The typological shape of the hall is that of a shoebox, a large rectangular space with a flat seating area. This model – a typology inherited from 19th century theatres that is an almost forgotten option nowadays, with the growing popularity of multipurpose halls – guarantees the quality and homogeneity of musical performance, as its shape suppresses primary and fragmented sound absorption (usually caused by sloping seating areas).

section 02

On the interior, leaning walls made of wood are detached from the container’s surface, producing a unitary space that incorporates both stage and orchestra. Their slightly round shape, dictated by acoustics, and their bright texture create a structure that contrasts with the container’s darker and more rigid forms.

As a result, the delicate textured surfaces that diffuse the sound provide acoustic perfection and a feeling of sensory well-being for performers and audience alike.

Hall and foyer communicate through pivoted doors disguised in the side walls. Once closed, the continuity of the wood texture guarantees a homogeneous reading of the spatial container.

© FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

The Theatre

The theatre hall was meant to be extremely versatile and “performant”, in order to allow different kinds of productions and events to take place.

We have tried to meet both the technical demands of the “theatre machine” and the requirements of intimacy, well-being, visual and acoustic optimization of the audience space in a balanced and flexible way.

The audience space is totally configured by gypsum fibre plates that produce a unitary shape, a dark, neutral, monochromatic “cocoon” with no edges, only punctuated by the doors, control room and VIP galleries. Its homogeneous shape and materials ensures acoustic effectiveness, its simplicity emphasises the stage performance.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Theatre and Auditorium in Poitiers / JLCG Arquitectos" 09 Dec 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • richard

    wish they had a model or helicopter shot to see the whole building

    • Leonardo Ximenes

      I’m kind of glad they didn’t. It helps us to exercise our capacity of abstraction (our main design resource) so as to understand the building. It also shows the design process was ‘old school’, not using virtual modelling as a crutch. We can see the superior end result: although the shapes are simple, the pathways were planned to provide a rich experience. Exactly the contrary of what happens with some buildings (complex bird eye shapes, poor spatial experience)

      • bob

        eeish some people sprout a lot of rubbish. show me a contempoary practice that doesnt have some sort of 3d modelling tool.

      • Leonardo Ximenes

        Peter Zumthor and Glenn Murcutt

      • ygogolak

        Not saying it’s a bad thing, but they don’t even have websites.

  • Als

    The facade is fantastic, feels so warm and good, the right thing there. And all the pathways give it also great feeling. Interiors are fine too.

  • José de Sousa

    Mais um trabalho de um homem (grupo) que nos eleva…proporciona espaços inovadores…permite uma apropriação do espaço, sagrado de cena, pelo público…
    De facto é pena não ser ver uma foto do edifício com a envolvente…
    Eu penso que o grupo resolveu bem este problema.
    Parabéns aos velhos e novos artistas da arte de nos fazer sonhar com um mundo melhor construído.
    Este é o comentário possível de um homen que não é arquitecto, mas tem a mente aberta para tudo o que é belo.

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