Toulouse > open-air theatre

Toulouse > open-air theatre

The project to build a circular open-air theatre at Port Viguerie was fuelled by the history of the plot of land designated for its construction. The banks of the Garonne form a sort of dry dock at this point along the river, beneath an existing semi-circular construction. The architectural design of the new theatre, like a moored barge on the riverbank, nestling within the old construction’s sturdy walls, adopts the formal and aesthetic language of the port which erstwhile occupied this stretch of the river, in the Saint Cyprien locality of Toulouse. The dike walls of old can therefore still be seen, and the formal bond between new project and former embankment gives a sense of purpose and structure to the design as a whole. The idea of building a circular theatre in one unbroken block was abandoned in favour of a two-part project, comprising a base, liable to flooding, built in sculpted concrete with wooden balconies above it, evoking the hulls of ships left high and dry. The required visibility gradient of the tiered seating and excellent acoustics required, led the architects to position the balconies like petals around the centre of a flower. The stage appears seemingly to be awaiting the rising waters so that it can lift anchor, and is positioned in such away that the circular theatre may be slotted into the embrace of the semi-circular walls. This means that the right bank of the Garonne becomes the backdrop for the action on stage. The tiered seating is divided into upper and lower sections. The project also aimed to offer the Saint Cyprien neighbourhood a new pedestrian area for public usage, as traffic had engulfed the former square at Port Viguerie. The question of periodic rising of the waters of the Garonne was also tantamount and the lower portions of the theatre’s construction provide answers to both these concerns. The ‘sculpted base’ in stamped, process-coloured concrete, provided a public space beneath the balconies on the city side of the theatre, to be used as a general foyer during festival periods and as a place for strolling during the rest of the year. On the Garonne side of the building, the base has semi-circular footings in close proximity to the stage. The 5° gradient allows ease of access to people with reduced mobility next to the proscenium and efficient, cleaner management of the falling waters after periods of flooding.
program
construction of a 1500 seat open-air theatre with green room and box office
project management
atelier d’architecture King Kong, Ingerop Sud-Ouest, Ducks Scéno, IdB Acoustique, Anne Bureau
client: City of Toulouse
location: Toulouse (31)
surface area: 1 265 m²
Cost (VAT included): 2 750 000 €
date: competition 2004
images/photos: D3îles
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