The Dominique Perrault Architecture-designed Albi Grand Theatre has now completed along the Alley of Culture in the southern French commune. This sleek architectural form is a concrete and brick design with large expanses of glass, draped with a metal copper-hued mesh. Externally the project is defined largely by its draped meshwork which hangs vertically against the building on two sides and steps away on the other two.
The practice explains: “The curves and counter curves required for this static mesh create a free, happy and lyric architecture. We’ll also see there the metaphor of the drop cloth or the evocation of an opera stage design. But most of all we’ll find there some brilliance, reflection, colour which reminds an architecture ‘dressed in a bright light’”.
This glimmering form stands out in the town when viewed from an elevated position as seen from the images shown here, shimmering in contrast to the more traditional architecture found in the neighbourhood. The Albi Grand Theatre incorporates public amenities at ground floor level, screening rooms and car parking in the basement, and theatres on the upper floors. There is also a hanging garden and open-air restaurant on the roof where visitors can enjoy views across the town.
Despite its contemporary architectural style, the volume has been designed in relation to its neighbouring cultural buildings, with public spaces opened up towards the historic centre and the neighbouring community. Settled on the edge of the historic centre, the Albi Grand Theatre incorporates an open public square where local people can gather before or after a performance, or meet socially in the shadow of this impressive new building.