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Albi Grand Theatre

Awarded winner of the international architecture competition for the Albi Grand Theatre in 2009, the project aims to modernize and strengthen the place of production and dissemination of contemporary creation in the  eld of performing arts. On a large site area (34 000 m2) at the heart of the city, the Grand Theatre (10 200 m2) comprises 900 seats auditorium, an experimental hall of 250 seats, administration and logistic area, foyers and an independent restaurant. It also includes a cinematographic complex (7 800 m2) with eight movie theatres, high de nition projection rooms, and an independent underground parking (12 800 m2) for 380 cars. The urban planning of the area covering the Theater square, Athanor square and Laperouse Garden is part of the program as well.
At the root of our project, and before any architectural consideration, there is the fundamental desire that the implementation of the Grand Theatre with its signi cant dimensions does not hurt the urban substance of the city and reveals the existence of a genuine area of culture in the city center of Albi.
The compactness and position of the project on the plot organize and materialize an «urban walk» led by the succession of several cultural buildings and public spaces, arranged in series from the cathedral to Rochegude Park. On the outskirts of the historic center, the Grand Theater identifies a contemporary and complementary counterpoint to the city whose history was recently promoted by UNESCO.
Seated at the rear of the plot, the Theater liberates large areas for public space at the front, forming a precious urban void which allows the presence of such a piece without strangling the city center urbanity.
We also searched some functional, simple, direct and immediate principles, especially for the access, by the public space, of the trucks, on the same level than the stage and the backstage.
The very simple and pure geometry of the theatre organizes vertically the different functions in order to free up the plan of the ground  or to offer a generous and continuous public space. We tried to develop a project where architecture does not oppose the city, to implement a major public building without creating a brutal front with other constructions.
The warm colors of the façades vary from tan to red-orange, evoking Albi’s local brick. 670 copper-coulored aluminium panels adorn the theater. A metallic veil dresses up the prism of the theatre.
The Metal mesh dramatizes much as it delights the general mass of the building, generating “moiré” effects. The curves and counter curves required for this static mesh create a free, happy and lyric architecture. We also see there the metaphor of the drop cloth or the evocation of an opera stage design.
This metallic woven skin, as a lace, protects the functions of the theatre without separating them from the functions of the city. It  lters the light and breaks the wind and the rain.This big ornament has some sustainable qualities. The mesh adjusts to the spaces and the uses that it covers.
The project connects the vertical dynamics of the theater with the horizontal movements of the city by in ltrating and extending under the bronzed metal mesh a democratic ground available for all. We wanted to erase the line between the outside and the inside, taking distance with the dialectic of separation between the practice of public space and that of the cultural facility. An attitude that allows more than it prevents.
This tight veil clears up some big arks at the public spaces level, to let the visitors and spectators come in, and then rises up in the sky over the built volume to create an immaterial  gure coming up in the landscape from the roofs of the city of Albi.

Dominique Perrault

Albi Grand Theatre
international competition, winning project December 2009, completion February 2014
2015: International Architecture Award

Client: Albi Town Council, Albi, France
Contact: Catherine Lagarde-Mazel, Urban Planning Department Director, Albi Town Hall, 16 rue de l’Hotel de Ville, 81023, Albi cedex, France tel +33 (0)5 63 49 12 40, fax +33 (0)5 63 49 14 29, courriel [email protected]

Architect: Dominique Perrault Architecture, Paris, France
Local architect: Christian Astruc Architects, Gaillac, France
Architect designer: Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost
Engineering: VP GREEN (structure), ETCO (mechanical engineering), RPO (economist), Changement à vue (scenograph), Jean-Paul Lamoureux (acoustics)

Location: Place de l’Amitié entre les Peuples, 81000, Albi, France

Site area: 34 000 m2
Built area; Grand Theatre 10 200 m2 (GFA), Cinemas 7 800 m2 (GFA) / independant underground parking 12 800 m2 (SHON)

Beginning of conceptual design June 2009
Beginning of construction June 2011
End of construction February 2014

Grand theater : 900 seats auditorium, 1 experimental hall of 250 seats, administration and logistics area, foyers, Independant restaurant cinematographic complex : 8 movie theatres, 1 500 seats aprox., high definition projection rooms
Independant underground parking : 380 cars
Urban planing : covering the area of the Theater square, Athanor square and Lapérouse Garden

Sketch: © Dominique Perrault / Adagp
Plans: © Dominique Perrault Architecture / Adagp
© Georges Fessy / Dominique Perrault Architecture / Adagp
© Vincent Boutin / Dominique Perrault Architecture / Adagp
© Vincent Boutin / Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost / Adagp


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Dominique Perrault Architecture

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Albi Grand Theatre with a metallic woven lace skin by Dominique Perrault Architecture.


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