Arup advises on the development of The New Theater Lucerne

22 June 2016 3 min. read
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The city of Lucerne is seeking to expand its cultural capacity with a new theatre, as its historically significant major theatre has become too small, and too rigid, for current audiences and tastes. To support the development and site identification, one of the stakeholders for the new development, Stiftung Salle Modulable, has called in the support of Arup.

Lucerne is a town in central Switzerland. The city has a population of around 80,000 and a growing cultural aspiration. Since the 1980s the city has sought to balance established cultural activity with that of spontaneous alternative culture. One of the city’s major alternative cultural sites, the ‘Boa’ was closed by the municipality due to possible noise pollution, with a new site ‘planned’ for a less populace location. The city’s current establishment theatre, the 180 year old Lucerne Theater, is also becoming too small. The municipality has therefore sought to found a new location in the city that provides more space for established productions.

The New Theater Lucerne is the name of the new theatre for the city: two independent studies have suggested a location with the most potential: the lakeside immediately behind the KKL Luzern Inseli. The location synergies with a number of stakeholders, including the KKL Luzern, the City and State and the Stiftung Salle Modulable. The planning is currently for a large hall with 750 seats, a small stage with 200 seats and four studios for rehearsals, small performances or temporary wardrobes. In addition, a public foyer will contain a Café. The total cost of the new theatre stands at around 208 million Swiss francs (approx. €189 million), with an operating cost of around 31 million Swiss francs (approx. €28 million) a year.

New Theater Lucerne

One of the firms relied on for the development of the new theatre is Arup. The consultancy firm produced a “New Theatre Lucerne Strategic Planning and Feasibility Study” for Stiftung Salle Modulable. The study develops a vision, concept framework, and technical concept for the project, as well as examines the project’s feasibility with regards to site evaluation, construction cost modelling, operational requirements, and project planning recommendations for the venue.

The consultancy has sought, on behest of its commissioners, to create a malleable performance space to increase the creative form in which the established artistic community, in the areas of musical theatre, opera, dance, and drama, is able to express itself. The space contains flexible infrastructure, such as movable balconies, lifts, sophisticated overhead rigging systems, and immersive sound and video infrastructure.

Tateo Nakajima, Arup Principal and Project Director, remarks “By leveraging our global experience with a wide range of cultural and performance arts venues, we are able to bring to bear our understanding of not only the building process but also the experience from both the audience and artist perspective. As a client advisor, we are able to assist the clients to develop a project that brings stakeholders together and help them navigate the practical realities and risks of an artistic building project.”

Hubert Achermann, Chairman of Stiftung Salle Modulable, says “This study reflects Arup’s superb and in-depth experience, its highest professionalism and — as it seems to us, a key success factor — a very creative, constructive, and efficient co-operation between top specialists within the team involved in this exciting and challenging project.”