Le Maillon Theater . Strasbourg

LAN . images: © LAN, 2014

Deeply rooted within contemporary creation and at the crossing point of performing arts, the vocation of Le Maillon theatre was to reach outside of its walls and extract the performing arts world from its occasional elitist position. In the end, the ephemeral nature of its original structure became an asset, profoundly modeling Le Maillon’s identity.

This is not a theatre… could sum up our approach. This project’s aim is to conceive more than a place: a genuine artistic machine, where stage acting and its grounds of production meet.
The project substitutes the traditional composition based on the foyer – rooms – logistics triad for the idea of a territory mainly constituted with free spaces, as many blank sheets to reveal and activate. Therefore, this theatre’s project becomes an equivalent of city planning, with which our concern is to define and design plots without constraining its development.
Forming a framework to be able to receive all the considered scenarios, a grid enhances these voids’ flexibility and creates places with a wide range of potential uses. Thus the virtual space created can be “updated” according to its inhabitants’ needs and expectations. The wall fitting this framework becomes what defines both these voids’ status and character; the element that testifies the transition from design to architecture.
Interior - exterior / Inside - outside / Entrance - exit / Private - public
Volume - void / Open - closed / Day - night / To show - to hide / To see - to be seen
Architecture can be thought as the junction between two antithetic spaces. A project’s significance is to be found in the swaying from one of these notions to the other, in the modality of this transition and its graduality. We believe the window can characterize and express this connection, by defining or suppressing these alterities: it is the place of desire and encounter, where a thing’s beauty and essence can be revealed.
On the outside, facades facing the public space become the interface, to which Le Maillon’s history can be perpetuated. An alternation of volumes and voids give rhythm to the building’s skin, composed of colored concrete and large windows looking out to the city.
The geography and location of the project invited us to pursue the logic initiated by the urban project, making up an articulation by stitching up the surrounding elements. From the main axes, the initial extrusion was carved in order to obtain a volume culminating at the end of the Schutzenberger avenue, creating an angle for the Adrien Zeller piazza and an urban beacon from the Jean Wenger Valentin street.
From the outside, this volume suggests a mysterious interiority, changing along with daylights and nightlights. It is a territory of contrasts, surprises, a spatial maze, a landscape articulated between courtyards and terraces. Inside, Piranesian public spaces link together the different rooms, reception space and streets.
Façades form light filters allowing the sight to reach the city, the park and surrounding architecture. At night, they become screens by releasing colorful projection of images, as if they were printed on glass.
Abstraction is overcome by figuration, the constant completed by the ephemeral. Each place becomes a discovery, each detail an invention. The pursuit of Architecture is just the same as stage acting: to move and delight one’s heart.

PROGRAMME: Construction of the new Le Maillon Theater
ADRESSE: Place Adrien Zeller, Strasbourg, FRANCE
PLANNING : 2013-2017
CLIENT: Strasbourg City council
BUDGET: € 16 225 M excl. VAT
Surface: 7 017m² / Necessary surface: 4 769m²
TEAM: LAN (mandatory architect), TERRELL (Framework and fluids engineers), FRANCK BOUTTE consultants (sustainable engineers), Bureau Michel Forgue (Quantity surveyor), Lamoureux (acoustics), Changement à vue (Scenography)

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