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Limoges Concert Hall

Limoges Concert Hall

Filtering and making light iridescent, Danpalon® participates in the display of one of France’s most beautiful halls.

Limoges Concert Hall was designed by Architect Bernard Tschumi to host major events and shows with international artists, to large audiences.

Bernard Yschumi, interviewed by Alain Orlandi 



AO: When was the designing of the Limoges Concert Hall entrusted to you?

danpalon zenith l'imoges jour

BT: Like every Architect, I often take part in contests and, in this case, I won the contest organised by the Community of Limoges, to design the City’s Concert Hall. But, permit me to go down memory lane and tell you about another contest in which I also took part, and which involved designing the Rouen Concert Hall. It is important to mention these two Concert Halls together because they are, at the same time, similar and very different. Similar in the concept requested and their internal organisation, and very different in their geographical location and consequently, the decisions relating to the choice of their materials.

This did not happen by ‘accident’ and we shall attempt to understand what my state of mind was at the time. What I retained from these contests was the ability, through the use of specific materials, to give life and soul, to a certain “colour” to an architectural design “in its early stage.”

zenith rouenIn Rouen, we were beside a highway and we “protected” ourselves from noise using an external steel “shell”. In Limoges, we are in a completely different environment. The topographical layout is not the same and the geographical context is also different. My entire approach consisted in mastering the differences and, most especially, their impact on what is the basis of the architecture of these two Concert Halls, that is, what I generally call “the in-between”, that is the architectural volume located between the concrete body surrounding the hall and the external envelope that constitutes the building’s façade. In Limoges, this “in-between” is separated by wooden arcs, but, the most important is the “external” skin – and the material it is made of – originate from a geographical context which is not similar to what we had in Rouen. In Limoges, the findings – or better still the question – was the following: we are in the heart of a state forest with 200-year-old trees; how do we establish a relationship between the interior of the building and its immediate environment?

danpalon zenith limoges schema structure

This relationship was determined at the same time by the choice of a wooden building – I am referring to the large arches which constitute the backbone of the external skin – and by the use of a material – in this case Danpalon® which makes it possible to “play” with light and to “play” on the effects of transparency. This transparency is not a literal transparency because the polycarbonate just finally “filters” the light, but in a very strange manner. During the day, when one walks around the reception hall, the changing external light generates a series of absolutely stunning reflections, particularly significant aesthetically speaking. During the night, it is the complete opposite. It is the artificial lights of the building that sparkle, like a magic lantern. Finally, the idea here was to show that a concept, completed using two different materials, is subject to changes in perception, showing that we can have buildings designed on the basis of this same concept. I think I can say that we succeeded in our goals because the two buildings, apart from their undisputed aesthetic qualities, have their unique “characteristics” and are completely different.


AO: During the designing phase of the Limoges Concert Hall, did you foresee the possibility that the polycarbonate of the façade and the wood arches of the structure of the latter, may lead to an “unnatural” marriage?” After all, these materials are very unlike each other, in their structural capacity as well as their plastic aspects…

BT: Your question is very relevant and you see, we also asked ourselves this question, but this was during the construction phase, and not during the designing phase.

danpalon zenith limoges schema structure

During the designing phase, our choices were defined: it was very clear that we intended to unite the wood and the translucent material which is polycarbonate. But during the construction work, before installing the butt strap, we placed some polycarbonate panels on the exterior faces of the wood arches constituting the structure of the external envelope. We asked ourselves about a possible aesthetic “gap” – telling you any other thing will not be true. But rapidly, we said to ourselves: “All this is very good!” And I will even add something: if I had the possibility to abstain from affixing the butt strap to the joint of the polycarbonate section on the external face of the façade’s arches, I would have not hesitated because these materials matched perfectly. But it cannot be excluded that in a different context, we may not combine Danpalon® with steel, or any other material.


AO: I would like to share with you a very strange situation I faced personally when I visited the site: sun reflected on the façade, and a dazzling silvery line ran horizontally on the entire façade, like a circle which could be in aluminium. It gave me a deeply disconcerting aesthetic experience…


BT: The use of polycarbonate, coupled with changing lights from the external environment, causes a series of absolutely incredible optical phenomena, and that we discovered during construction works. Polycarbonate, in the form of various layers, captures and focuses light rays in a very strange way. I understand this phenomena better today, but at the time, it was very different…

If you observe the building from outside at night, you will notice that the fluorescent lighting tubes which provide internal light multiply on the façade! And from inside, the white and red headlights of cars literally cross the latter! A kinetic game, so fabulous, occurs as if by magic on the façade. And since we do not think immediately of the presence of cars outside the building, this “game” is all the more mysterious.

It is worth noting that these effects are not side effects, but rather magical effects. We discovered them during the construction works and that we naturally took advantage of. I still remember this light test we made on a December night, at the heart of winter. The presence of snow on the polycarbonate panels gave a metallic colour which, for a short while, made me think that I was at the Rouen Concert Hall!


AO: In a recent conversation with Alain Chambron, CEO of EVERLITE CONCEPT, he informed me that architects with whom he designed a housing scheme went as far as using polycarbonate as an outer wall covering. This reveals the aesthetic power of this undoubtedly unique material …

BT: I am not surprised because this idea has also came to my mind. There is nothing strange about that. A very simple reason explains this. Architects design their facades more and more like successive layers, such as glass, and this plays on the light of the plastic frame. However, I have been working hard for a few years now in the United States, to “penetrate” the American market with this material. Progress is being made, though slow, but I believe that one day, the use of this material will become natural for clients as well as local contractors. I just completed a tour of New York – the “blue” tour – and I tried relentlessly to convince the client to allow me to use Danpalon® polycarbonate for the facades, but my efforts, unfortunately, were in vain. I am currently on the verge of building a museum in the rural suburbs of Washington, and I am doing all I can to be able to use the EVERLITE CONCEPT product.

AO: From what you are saying, this material seems to have properties which do not leave you indifferent…

BT: I am fascinated by this material. Literally. Concerning thermal insulation, it has interesting advantages, to say the least. It is also light, easy to install, capable of spanning long ranges, and, most especially, new, hence worth considering.

AO: In conclusion, let us talk about the methods for installing Danpalon®


BT: To answer your question, I must first mention the horizontal and vertical joints in the façade. The use of vertical joints can be explained by the fact that Danpalon® systems are added on the external faces of the arches of the façade, and, also, by the flexibility of these panels which is up to about 11 metres! Concerning the horizontal joint, it is located in the place that I would like to define as strategic. You know, the interest I have in these theoretical issues, and with the design of Concert Halls, I have annihilated the difference between roofs and façades, and invented the concept of “enveloping.” It is at this point that EVERLITE CONCEPT’s product is marvellous because it can fulfil both functions! The problem is that the law does not permit it. It requires a gutter acroteria but where would we find a acroteria in a building façade and where the roof merges? We took the opportunity to add a horizontal joint; which is technical and practical, between the lower panel and the upper panel of the polycarbonate. Generally, the structure of the external envelope comprises of a wooden arch made every 5.50m. Between these arches, all over the sub-structure, also in wood, are vertical arches and horizontal casings positioned at every 1.80m, like a ladder, these profiles were calculated according to the strength generated by the wind on the polycarbonate panels. These panels are 16 mm thick and 1.04 m wide. They are very intelligent - and by far, the most intelligent on the market – because they include a small spoiler which when these plates are juxtaposed in pairs, to place a hood-binder (or clip ) also made of polycarbonate, acts as a cap and has a sealing function. We also used an aluminium hood-binder to connect the polycarbonate sheets, as there were concerns for positioning the wooden couvre-joint on the external face of the main arcs, this created a watertight EPDM seal between the main carrier arc and the polycarbonate sheets. Concerning the facade’s curve, the DTU consider that at a certain degree of inclination, the facade is no longer a facade but a roof. And you can easily imagine, wall-sealing constraints are not the same as those for roofs. The maximum length of EVERLITE CONCEPT plates, I believe, was about 14m. But our “developed” facade was much longer. It was therefore necessary, to create a junction, using a metal rabbet at the point where the “façade” becomes the “roof”, visually, it is a simple wire line that connects seamlessly with the horizontal frame of the sub-frame in the outer envelope.

Additional information:

Bernard Tschumi is a French Architect, born in Switzerland in 1944. He works and lives in Paris and New York, where he is Head of the Department of Architecture” of Columbia University. In 1983, he won the competition for the construction of the Parc de La Villette in Paris, which gave him an immediate international reputation. In the wake of this prestigious competition, he also designed the School of Architecture of Marne-la-Vallée and the Fresnoy. He has designed a significant amount of buildings, like the Miami School of Architecture, and the Acropolis Museum in Athens. In November 2003, he won the competition for the construction of the Limoges Concert Hall.


Large Auditorium concert hall, with capacity of 6000 spectators, fully scalable, comprising:

a foyer with bars and reception room;

Business premises for administration and box offices, two catering departments for restaurant and a warm-up room

  • Architect(s): Bernard Tschumi
  • Company: Smac
  • Product(s): Danpalon® 16 MC 1040mm clear
  • Place: Limoges

facade   ▪    Vented rainscreen   ▪    roofing   ▪    canopy   ▪    interior

Practical information

ceNorme EN n°16153


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