Bernard Tschumi, Zénith Concert Hall, Rouen, France 1998-2001

Bernard Tschumi,

sport, SPA, Companies, Theater, Auditorium,

Cemento, Metallo,

Aiming to identify a way of boosting the city's growth both economic and cultural, in 1997 Rouen city hall held a restricted competition for construction of a complex to host cultural and sports events and exhibitions.

Bernard Tschumi, Zénith Concert Hall, Rouen, France 1998-2001 One of the most interesting things about Tschumi's Zénith is the shape of the concert hall: a structure made up of arches of tubular steel with a constant radius, like a secondary frame of rectangular profiles, covered with panels of corrugated sheet steel. While the geometry of the concert hall may look like a simple metal tower upon first glance, as we draw nearer we realise that it is constructed out of two elliptical shells which are offset slightly to open up a gap in the building's opaque covering.
This great vertical fault, covered with glass throughout its entire height, marks the building's main entrance and opens directly into the foyer, located between the outer shell of metal and the exposed cement structure of the auditorium.
The auditorium seats up to 7000 and has a slightly elliptical shape which creates a perfect atmosphere for pop concerts while allowing the theatre set-up to be changed to suit other types of show.

Heavy black curtains hanging from a series of platforms in an orthogonal scheme may be used to shape the stage area and the horseshoe-shaped auditorium as required.
The transparent polycarbonate seats produce fascinating reflections and expose to view the terraced structure of the stalls, reminiscent of that of a Greek amphitheatre.
Tschumi rejected the inflatable roof used by all other Zéniths, opting instead for a grid structure supported by three tie shafts which do away with the need for pillars in the middle of the hall and stand out from a distance.
The long glassed-in rectangle of the exhibition hall permits a wide variety of different set-ups and is suitable for hosting events attracting large numbers of people, trade fairs and business conventions.

Tschumi is not limited by the poverty of the materials used, but makes a show of their nudity: he plays with the lack of colour in the cement and steel, with the transparency of polycarbonate, and with light sources to create dreamy, evocative architecture.

Flores Zanchi


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