Le Granit Theater

  • Belfort, France
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The renovation of a 19th century theater gave Jean Nouvel an opportunity to demonstrate the validity of principles set out in previous designs with Jaques Le Marquet. The ideal approach is to highlight the characteristic features of the building’s architecture. The original Belfort building had undergone a haphazard series of alterations and additions. Nouvel mitigates the effect of these bush-hammering hatching into the shoddy plasterwork thus exposing the brick. An opening onto town was hewn out of the blind façade perched over the river. This new opening was an architectural section in a very literal sense and it revealed the life of the building, its rehearsal rooms, brasserie and bar. The interior treatment combines two contrasting aesthetic approaches: The first, conceived by Gary J. Glaser, tends to recreate and enhance the pomp and finery of former periods by highlighting the mannered gilding, moldings and frescoes, reinterpreting the auditorium’s color scheme; while the other transfixing the dilapidated spaces, illuminating them with subtle motifs – punk dignified by an unexpected touch of sophistication. With its electronic bulletin boards and flashing neon lights, the theatre proclaims its revamped past and its new vocation.


Olivier Boissière