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PROJECT REPORT: CULTURAL, CIVIC & FAITH BUILDINGS


41


© Eugeni Pons


radiance.” He says that while its three- storey scale is not out of all proportion with the nearby low-rises, the building takes a cue from its immediate environment in creating a contrast to it: “In the end, the building itself makes the context.” The design is distinguished by expansive concrete walls, which despite their monolithic white, form an “animated” set of volumes, as the architects put it. There are also glimpses of the interesting spaces within through glazing that tempt visitors to enter.


The building presents itself as a playfully- stacked set of differently-shaped white boxes, the north elevation having a large cantilevered viewing window with floor-to- ceiling glass, overlooking the square and the town beyond. With its face tilted upwards towards the town, this attractive Dominique Coulon signature helps to offset the neces- sary square bulk of the stage tower behind. Facing onto the northern forecourt of white marble ‘cobblestones’, the entrance is in fact tucked into the top end of the building’s eastern elevation, helping signpost the area while being a discreet design choice. This allows its western end to have a charac- terful composition of recessed areas of glazing and the white exterior of the lobby,


ADF OCTOBER 2018


whose triangular form protrudes from the main bulk of the building, creating a deep ‘crease’ where it rejoins it. What the archi- tects call a “rather modest” entrance opening enables the lobby, which is entered at one end and runs diagonally along the north side, to present itself more dramatically as a longer space than would have been the case. Providing a “streamlined silhouette,” the building is constructed from a mix of concrete and steel, with the auditorium having an in-situ concrete frame and the foyer containing the main stair being steel frame. Coulon says that this brought savings in terms of the amount of structure required, which in turn helped the building be cost-effective: “It made us possible for us to respect the budget we were given.”


Continuity & contrasts


The lobby is at once subtle and dramatic, covered in off-white uncoloured gypsum plaster, continuing the feel of the exterior but in a softer shade to welcome theatregoers. A beige-carpeted staircase to the auditorium is revealed, discretely located opposite the reception and running around the external wall.


Coulon was aiming for a series of “unveilings” as the building progressively


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GEOMETRY


Coulon characterises the foyer as “a giant sculpture in which users experience space in a striking way” Images © Eugeni Pons


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