Les Quinconces Cultural Centre | The Plan
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Les Quinconces Cultural Centre

Babin+Renaud Architects

Both architecturally and as an urban development scheme, the Les Quinconces Cultural Centre in the French city of Le Mans is a complex project, responding to a specific cultural programme. It symbolically juxtaposes a new city theatre and a multiplex cinema, with the deliberate intent of mingling different cultural experiences. The complex also plays a key urban role as a contemporary monument and architectural trait d’union within its context. One side faces the imposing Gothic architecture of the apse of the Cathedral of Saint Julien while the other offers a balcony overlooking the broad, tree-lined Esplanade des Quinconces. Although two separate building, theatre and multiplex are united by a single metal roof that also covers the wide paved pedestrian thoroughfare between the two, an area of interconnection where cinema- and theatre-goers mingle with passers-by going from one urban space to another.
Although similar in size and the geometry of their frontage facing the paved Place des Jacobins, these two parallelepiped volumes differ architecturally. The theatre is a transparent block of different degrees of translucent glazing overlooking the outside concourse. In contrast, the multiplex is an opaque volume clad in light coloured limestone.
The theatre, with a ground floor entrance and first floor foyer, has clearly delineated interior spaces: a café-restaurant with strong “signpost” colours, administrative offices, accessory, dressing and rehearsal rooms (whose stage can be transformed into a level public area). Meeting and exhibition rooms have been placed towards the back of the building.  The theatre proper seats 832 in raked stalls and a balcony.
It is to all intents and purposes a timber-clad musical “box”, the outside in light-coloured slats and the interior lined with darker coloured panels. The hall is equipped with state-of-the-art technology able to accommodate the different sound and...

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