The Albi Grand Theatre is going to transform the texture of the city as well as its cultural influence. This building appears as an outstanding architectural symbol, on the outskirts of the historic centre. We have given priority to the presence of the Grand Theatre instead of the cinemas, in order to organize around it a network of public spaces and of cultural facilities. The Grand Theatre will be its centre.
Along the Alley of Culture, different public spaces will follow one another, punctuating a walkway going from the cathedral to the Rochegude big public park. This path begins with the creation of a square at the level of the Sibille Boulevard, then arrives on the theatre place, and continues on the cinemas place in front of the Athanor, to finally open onto the public garden. That’s the idea of an « urban walkway » animated by the succession, the juxtaposition and the interaction of several cultural buildings.
We chose to clearly identify those different buildings with places which give them an address in the city. Therefore, the preserved Athanor building is modified to create the entrance of the cinemas. It becomes the visible part of this « iceberg », offering a big lobby, with maybe some shops and a café at the square level. In the basements, we find all the screening rooms. So the base of the theatre place is totally occupied by the cinematographic complex. This layout allows us to liberate all the public space and to open it generously to the urban activity and the population.
The very simple geometry of the theatre allows a setting up along the Général de Gaulle Avenue, in an attempt of urban continuity and proximity with the multimedia library, generating two more or less triangular places on the side of the “cultural alley”. Those two public spaces, new in this urban infrastructure, are laid around the theatre: one is opened towards the historic centre and the other towards the neighbourhood.
Pictures by Georges Fessy for archdaily