Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
The Extension-Renovation of ThBETHUNE, FRANCEe Comedie De Bethune–National Drama Center in FRANCE by MANUELLE GAUTRAND ARCHITECTURE
March 5th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: MANUELLE GAUTRAND ARCHITECTURE
A BUILDING WITH A PRECIOUS HISTORY
Firstly named “National Drama Center of the Nord Pas de Calais” then “Theater of the Northern Countries” and finally renamed “La Comédie De Bethune” by Agathe Alexis and Alain Barsacq who managed it from 1992, this theater distinguishes itself by its location in the heart of a territory marked by the crisis.
Since the 1980s, culture has become a priority in the development of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais area; “La Comédie De Bethune” reflected the will of the elected representatives of the department to be equipped with a National Drama center.
Place of reference and artistic excellence where the theater can express itself in all its forms and reach all audiences, the building contributes strongly to the attractiveness of the area and represents the most emblematic cultural equipment of the city.
Installed in a marquee with three hundred seats in 1992, the theater moved in 1993 in an old powder magazine, built by Vauban and refurbished into a «Studio Theater» which is still used nowadays.
There was initially a movie theater called «The Palace» built in the 1930s on the present site of “La Comédie De Bethune”. The facade of the building maintained by girders, was all that was left when it was demolished in the 1990s.
THE EXISTING BUILDING (THEATER DELIVERED IN 1999):
The building delivered by the agency in 1999 included most of the features, but compared to a conventional theater, there was still missing a rehearsal room for the artists (provided by the current extension).
This first piece has been installed «around» the conserved house on what was available on the plot, adopting a “S” form complicated by this context. A big part of the plot was naturally dedicated to the room and its direct additional premises (dressing rooms, backstage, state control) while the narrowest part of the north was for the rest of the functions, with the lobby, the administration, and the accompanying facilities (toilets, technical rooms. …).
The implementation of a slightly sloping ground at the ground floor has permitted to add at the very last moment a coffee bar under the slope of the flowerbed of the room, so as to create a friendly place, both to the artists and the public.
GOALS OF THE EXTENSION AND THE RENOVATION:
Today, the street corner house having been demolished, the extension was able to be realized after 16 months of work, partially in occupied site. The agency Manuelle Gautrand Architecture took this opportunity to put in the current building safety regulations (which have changed since 15 years).
The extension is located on the corner of the plot, on three levels: a volume of high-rise located on the same level as the natural ground, and dedicated to the rehearsal room; then a level of offices, which links with the existing office floor to the second floor of the building.
RESTRUCTURING OF THE EXISTING:
Many spaces have also been changed within the existing building. Indeed, since the delivery of the original building fifteen years ago, the safety regulations have evolved considerably. This project therefore involved the upgrading of the entire building. Several safety regulations were concerned, including the fi re safety regulations and the accessibility to all spaces of the theater for disabled people.
THE ROOM ABOVE THE PIT:
The agency used all these work to complete this room, which had been left «raw» during the construction of the original building, into a second rehearsal room without grid, and smaller than the main rehearsal room, with an access facilitated by the raising of the staircase of the offices.
ARCHITECTURAL GUIDELINES FOR THE EXTENSION:
As mentioned previously, this extension was wished for a long time by the City and by “La Comédie De Bethune”, because only this extension could complete this ambitious program. Therefore, the extension has been the missing piece for more than ten years, and the possibility of acquiring the corner plot by the City in 2009 had finally permitted to achieve this main goal.
Today, the theater finally finished is a magnificent tool for the comedy: it’s a brand new «tool» ready for a new generation of actors and stage directors…
THE FACADES: A SUBTLE STAGING AROUND THE BLACK:
The conception of the facades had to integrate the highly visible part of the initial project, this large rounded volume with the smooth corners, fully lacquered in purple. And it was not so easy to juxtapose a renewed style…
Finally, it’s in black that the agency coated this extension: a deep and powerful color. To create a soft link with the initial volume, this black is implemented in the form of a kind of weaving metal panels, which are drawing large rhombuses, to remind the ones of the purple rounded shape.
Contact MANUELLE GAUTRAND ARCHITECTURE