The Zenith will be a state-of-the-art music and cultural facility for St. Etienne that will place the formerly industrial city on the cultural map. Challenging sister city Lyon’s historic monopoly on staging the Rhone-Alpes region’s cultural events, the world-class facility forms the heart of an exciting project to revitalise the area to the north-east of the city centre, transforming St Etienne into one of the foremost cities for culture in the region, and regenerating the wider urban context.
The distinct aerodynamic form of the Foster design will be an instantly recognisable symbol. It responds to ecological concerns, with the cantilevered roof acting as a scoop to channel and intensify the wind flow, directing it through the building to ventilate the auditorium naturally by night time cooling. The system is fully reversible and can respond to prevalent winds from both northerly and southerly directions.
Access to the concert hall will be via a large external ramped plinth that bridges the busy Rue Scheurer Kestner and allows audience members to enter and exit quickly and efficiently. A glazed foyer organises internal circulation and provides access to all floors and visitor amenities. The auditorium can be configured for an audience ranging from 1100 to 7200, and the additional facilities include the VIP reception, backstage areas, changing and production spaces, staff refectories and delivery areas. A comprehensive landscape strategy links the Zenith facility to 1100 car parking spaces and a proposed pedestrian boulevard, which leads to other existing leisure facilities in the immediate area.