The project was initiated as a civic tool capable of fostering both the economic expansion and cultural development of the Rouen district in the 21st century. This double function informed the program’s development at a well-located site near the entry to Rouen and less than an hour-and-a-half by car from Paris.
As seen from National Route 138, the 7000-seat concert hall, open public space, and new 70,000 square-foot exhibition hall provides a strong contemporary image, a spark of cultural and economic rebirth placed on 70 acres of a site structured by dramatic lighting and a grid of plantings.The complex is designed to be seen with equal interest whether heading to or away from Rouen on the highway. The public area where the exhibition hall and concert hall come together can also accommodate shows, exhibitions and open-air events, and permits lighting installations and temporary structures. This public plaza opens towards the respective entrances of the exhibition hall and the concert hall, allowing the public to be welcomed into the most generous spaces without disrupting their struc¬tural logic.he two buildings are conceived to offer a number of different uses. The exhibition hall allows a diversity of organizational schemes, accommodating conventions for crowds or trade fairs for limited professional groups. The concert hall accommodates musical as well as sporting events, political conventions, and theatrical shows.
The 700-foot-long exhibition hall is conceived as a simple structure, its roof slightly vaulted; the overall horizontality contrasts with the prolif¬erating curves and the guy-wired-masts of the concert hall. The ceiling structure of the vault is designed to maximize the flexibility of the exhibition spaces on the open floor below.
In the 350-foot-diameter concert hall, the typology of the classic concert hall has been transformed by developing a slight asymmetry in the audience seating to lend spontaneity to the atmosphere of pop music and other media. The asymmetry also provides functional advantages, permitting the theater to be reconfigured into three smaller volumes and accommodating the off-center entry.
The structural system of the roof allows both an economical long span and long-distance visibility, due to the three masts which will be illuminated on concert evenings. Tension cables hold the middle of the spans, permitting a lighter truss system.
Acoustical concerns led to a complete double envelope surrounding the concert hall. The inner skin, the concrete stepped seating, is doubled by the exterior, a broken torus formed of insulat¬ed corrugated metal. The entry lobby is located between the two skins.