Aesthetic steel solutions contribute to the architectural beauty of L'Archipel Theatre in Perpignan

This unique architectural project highlights two of ArcelorMittal's aesthetic solutions: Indaten® weathering steel and metallic coated steel. The combination of these two steels shows how metallic diversity contributes to architectural beauty.

Detailed information

The city of Perpignan has dedicated nearly an acre along the banks of the Têt River to an architectural complex for the performing arts: L’Archipel Theatre is the new culture hotspot in the area.

It was the first time that a French cultural building was actually financed in a public–private partnership. As such, it hosts performances of all kinds – dance, music & theatre works, French, Catalan, Italian or Spanish...always with the objective to promote the living art of the Mediterranean.

The architecture of the project is signed by Jean Nouvel in association with Brigitte Métra, both of whose reputations are well established in metal architecture. Their aims were to provide various forms and shapes to the six buildings that make up the art complex and their facades, a recurring image of familiar Catalan references.

The heart of this complex is the Grand Salle, offering seats for 1100 spectators. With the shape of a garnet-coloured river stone, it is similar to those stones exploited for a long time at the Canigou mountain in the Pyrenees.

Just a few metres away, we find the Cage de scene, the cage stage, in which history is evoked – reminscent of the fortresses and castles of the Majorcan kings.

Facade and roof in steel: Exceptional reflectivity of light

The other four buildings are completely covered with metal products. The rehearsal space, a workshop similar to the ones in the airline industry, takes the form of an arch and is covered with a double skin facade and roof (in one) with Kristal® coated steel sheets from Arval´s Haciero® range (Haciero® 3.333.39T). The silvery coating together with the waves created by Hacierco® makes the building stand out due to its exceptional reflectivity of light. Furthermore, its tunnel form reminds of one of 'the journey of creation.'

Indaten®: Change and creativity on the facade

While the main tower for the dressing rooms and offices is draped in a golden facade as a reference to the Catalan coat of arms, the versatile 'creation hall,' with a capacity of 400 seats, is enveloped in Indaten® steel. This steel creates a protective patina that changes over time. That was the main reason it was chosen: for expressing change and creativity and thus achieving the unique aesthetics sought in architectural projects nowadays. Another advantage of Indaten® is its remarkable durability. There is no need for additional protection against corrosion as the patina assures absolute resistance. The surface aspect of the Indaten® facade alludes to the iron mines that once brought fortune to the region.

Indaten® is processed for MD Cassettes in different sizes (from the Arval product range), which have been specially developed for this kind of steel and the constraints it brings with it. The cassettes are slid one after the other into the vertical rails fixed to the wall through the metal brackets.

The last building in L'Archipel Theatre complex is the local logistics centre. It is entirely covered with posters that are fixed to an, again, metallic facade made of flat galvanised steel sheets and traditional corrugated sheets. It is to be expected that the outer skin of this building’s facade will also change in the coming years.

All six buildings are connected by a large canopy, unique in its kind, that creates a visual connection and underlines the fact that this is one common art centre.

Project information

  • Perpignan
  • France
  • 2008 - 2011
  • Architect:
    Ateliers Jean Nouvel & Brigitte Metra Associées
  • Client:
    Ville de Perpignan
  • Engineering firms:
    Verdier (structure), Alto (building services)
  • Contractors:
    AUXIFIP / AGIR (general), ROSSI (Indaten® facade), STEREC NORD (roofing)
  • Photographer:
    ArcelorMittal Europe - Flat Products