Fosters completes new venue in Saint-Etienne
The result of an international design competition, the Zénith is the first purpose-built, state-of-the-art
music venue in the Rhone-Alpes region of France. The project was conceived to raise Saint-
Etienne’s profile as a regional venue for arts events and to help drive the regeneration of this
formerly industrial city.
The distinctive cantilevered roof structure was developed in response to aerodynamic studies – it
acts as a wind scoop, channelling the flow of air through the building to naturally ventilate the
auditorium. Cold air currents through the roof void are also harnessed, the auditorium ceiling slab
performing as a radiant cooling surface, further reducing energy consumption. This system is fully
reversible to take advantage of prevailing winds from both northerly and southerly directions.
Additionally, the deep overhang of the roof canopy shades the glazed foyer.
The wider energy
strategy envisages the use of water from boreholes to offset mechanical cooling and an
underground thermal ‘rock store’ for the passive pre-cooling of large volumes of air.
Access to the concert hall is via a broad ramped plinth that bridges a busy road, while a glazed foyer
organises internal circulation and provides access to all floors and visitor amenities.
flexible auditorium can be configured to accommodate 1,100 to 7,200 people. Backstage facilities
include changing and production spaces, staff refectories and delivery areas; there is also a VIP
reception suite. A comprehensive landscape strategy links Zénith to 1,200 car parking spaces and to
a proposed pedestrian boulevard, which leads to existing rail transport connections.