Architects: João Luís Carrilho da Graça
Location: Poitiers, 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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.