Music & Convention Center, Strasbourg (FR)

This project combines two important concert halls with a new construction to create a harmonious whole and a distinctive architectural identity. The complex now offers an international center for music, business, meetings, exhibitions and conventions.

 

Concept

We decided to further develop the geometries of the two existing buildings and strengthen the expression of their qualities in a contemporary context. We added a new 35,000 square feet multi-function hall, whilst keeping the triangular pattern and complementing the ensemble. The existing halls refurbished, optimally re-engineered and painted in memorable monochromatic colors, retain their sculptural walls. We increased seating capacity, created a new intimate theater plus a new conference center that floats dramatically over the main entrance. A central foyer with open staircases, galleries and bridges connects the concert, conference and exhibition spaces. The polished stainless steel colonnade stretches nearly one kilometer around all three buildings to unite them in a contemporary whole.

Client: Eurométropole de Strasbourg
Location: F-67000 Strasbourg, Place Bordeaux
Architecture: Dietrich | Untertrifaller with Rey-Lucquet et associés
Project management: Heiner Walker, Elke Delvoye (D|U) & Aurélien Vollmar (R-L)
Competition: 2011
Construction: 2013-2016
Area: ca. 44,500 m² (32,5′ renovation, 12′ new buildings)
Capacity: 15,000 visitors

Awards: 2017 Mies van der Rohe Award (nomination)

Partner
structural engineering: OTE Ingénierie, Illkirch; Serue Ingénierie, Schiltigheim / HAVCR: OTE Ingénierie, Illkirch; Serue Ingénierie, Schiltigheim / sustainability & building physics: Solares Bauen, Strasbourg / costs: C2BI, Strasbourg / Acoustics: Müller-BBM, Munich / stage: Walter Kottke, Bayreuth / facade: CEEF, Ramonchamp / landscape: Digitale Paysage, Imbsheim / Kitchen: Ecotral, Strasbourg /// photos: © Bruno Klomfar

Urban Context

 

With a gross floor area of 44,500 m², the Strasbourg Music & Convention Center is an important part of the Wacken-Europe urban development project.

The district located in the north of the city center close to the European Parliament receives a new architectural landmark and positions itself as an attractive international business and service destination.

 

The surrounding park with its mature trees was designed in an agreeably relaxed way: curving, paved paths flanked by simple concrete blocks that serve as seating areas in the meadow. They allow a number of different direct approaches from the surrounding streets and the event venues as well as creating a variety of small promenades among the greenery. In front of the building they create small forecourts for informal, communicative meetings.

Organization & Spatial Program

Qualities of the pre-existing buildings brought to the fore, reinterpreted; added by boldly expanded structural sequences to create a new whole with unprecedented recognition value – this sums up our revitalization and expansion work.

The main focus of the concept is the central skylit lobby with its monumental stairs, bridges, a new main entrance and a forecourt. All venues and function rooms open onto this central hub of circulation, orientation and reception. The spacious foyers offer additional exhibition space and serve as informal meeting zones for communicative exchange during breaks. This clearly arranged and open spatial design simplifies and structures the complex’s functional processes and facilitates visitors’ orientation.

High-contrast Design

To set a contrast to the whiteness of the foyer area, we gave all the halls a powerful uniform coat of color. The color is announced in the acacia wooden entrances and reoccurs in the corresponding cloakrooms on the ground floor. All halls are equipped with the latest event technology and enable functional flexibility. The large Erasme Hall is bright red and seats now 1,870 people. The strikingly structured wall panelling has been retained.

 

Acoustics

The large concert hall Erasme was fundamentally redesigned and technically and acoustically optimized. For the acoustics of the halls, we developed the concept together with Müller-BBM, Munich. The decorative plaster elements on the ceiling and wall result in a diffuse acoustic mixture providing a balanced sound quality without excessive clarity.

The purple Schweitzer Auditorium – expanded in the rear by 300 seats – accomodates 1,180 visitors.
The new blue Cassin Auditorium with 515 seats shows a more intimate atmo¬sphere.
Generous glazing in the Marie Curie Hall allows a view of the greenery and brings nature into the room.
Clad in acacia wood on the outside, it 'floats' on slender columns on the upper floor above the entrance hall.
In the evening, its gleaming shade of red makes it glow above the entrance like a huge lantern.
With the "Hall Rhin" in the newly constructed wing, a multi-purpose hall for large events such as trade fairs and congresses is available on an area of 3,000 m².
Spacious foyers offer additional exhibition space or invite visitors to communicate during breaks as informal meeting zones. Room-high glazing provides natural daylight and creates attractive views to the outside space.
The eastern extension close to the Erasme Hall accomodates the new rehearsal hall for the Philharmonic orchestra of Strasbourg as well as numerous small practice rooms for the musicians.

Foyer

In the foyer, powerful structural elements of the original building – such as the ceiling built on a triangular grid – were integrated into the new design. Newly cut skylights brighten the central foyer. The individual halls emerge as bodies clad in acacia wood. The existing marble foyer from the 1970s has been renovated and freed from the ceiling coverage and subsequent installations.

Facade

 

The architectural concept is also visible on the façade: a nearly one kilometer long arcade wraps around and encloses the entire building complex, giving it a distinct profile. With their varied bent shapes and the rhythm of their layout, the fifteen-meter high and six-ton stainless steel columns create a highly attractive and dynamic outer layer between the inside and the outside. At the same time, the expressive façade emblematizes the rich architectural potential for integration of old and new.

History

The commission was awarded to our office and Rey-Lucquet & Associés by unanimous jury decision in an international design competition in 2011.

Initial proposals for a convention center and music venue came from Le Corbusier, but the project stalled after his death in 1965. Work on the project resumed in the 1970s and it was realized as a hexagonal structure according to the plans of Strasbourg municipal architect François Sauer and his successor Paul Ziegler.

In the late 1980s an annex of roughly the same volume – also on a hexagonal floor plan – followed, which, along with Schweitzer’s auditorium, created an additional large space for music, theater and events as well as additional event space. The significance of these structures persuaded us to further develop the existing geometry and strengthen the expression of its qualities in a contemporary context.