Theatre de la Nouvelle Comédie de Genève: backstage is the protagonist

The project by FRES Architectes is a veritable factory of artistic creation where theatrical performances are accompanied by feverish backstage work.

"How magical it is to enter a theatre and see the lights go out...There is a deep silence and the curtain begins to open. Maybe it's red. And you enter another world ».

This is how David Lynch describes the experience of the theatre: this magic permeates the project by Paris-based FRES Architectes for the Theatre de la Nouvelle Comédie de Genève.

The project, winner of an international competition, involves the construction of a new building in the area undergoing transformation of the former Eaux-Vives railway station and has the peculiarity of being conceived as a true factory of artistic creation. The project includes both the performance spaces and all the activities necessary for the production of a show, from the sets to the costumes, located in special workshops (carpentry, tailoring, painting, sculpture, painting,...).

Composed of four emerging volumes connected by lower bodies, the building is totally open to the city thanks to two large glass facades, on the front and back, designed to make it permeable and show the daily work that takes place here.

Inside there are two halls, a 500-seat frontal hall and a modular 250-seat hall dedicated to experimentation, two rehearsal rooms, administrative rooms and the large full-height entrance area with café/restaurant, ticket office and foyer, creating a direct connection with the city.

FRES architectes, Theatre de la Nouvelle Comédie de Genève , Ginevra 2020. Foto: Yves André. Vista della sala principale dal palcoscenico.
FRES architectes, Theatre de la Nouvelle Comédie de Genève , Ginevra 2020. Foto: Yves André. View of the main hall from the stage.

The complex appears as an iconic presence on the urban skyline, thanks also to its changing image, which makes it a pulsating heart of fervent activity at all hours of the day: sober and measured by day, bright and captivating at night when the large foyer, illuminated in red, recalls - like a curtain about to rise - the magic of performance.

FRES architectes, Theatre de la Nouvelle Comédie de Genève , Ginevra 2020. Foto: Yves André.
FRES architectes, Theatre de la Nouvelle Comédie de Genève , Ginevra 2020. Photo: Yves André. The theatre illuminated by night.

The choice of materials (cement, glass, metal and wood) evokes the deliberately industrial character of the construction.

Some said that theatre is a beautiful copy of life. But perhaps the great thing here is that it is life itself, with its labours and glories, that is speaking.

Theatre de la Nouvelle Comédie de Genève
FRES architectes (Laurent Gravier, Sara Martin Camara)
Gross floor area:
16,060 sqm
Site area:
4.,160 sqm
Geneva Municipality
Canton Geneva
Changement A Vue
Kahle Acoustics
Facades engineering:
Emmer Pfenninger & Partner
Lighting project:
Civil engineering:
T ingénierie + Batiserf + Brasey
Mechanical project:
SRG (Riedweg et Gendre SA)
Electrical project:
Perrin-Spaeth & Associés
Fire prevention project:
Swiss Safety Center
Main companies:
Maulini (opere strutturali), Hevron (facciate), Morand (costruzioni in acciaio), BC Caire (macchinari scenici), Form C (calcestruzzo rinforzato nella sala modulare), Merotto Milani (sedute nella sala principale), Figueras (sedute nella sala modulare), Dasta (carpenteria in legno), Dentan (impermeabilizzazioni), Egg Telsa (reti elettriche), Swissohm (quadri elettrici e domotica), Suntechnics (fotovoltaico), Perfolux (illuminazione d’emergenza), G+M Elektronik (sistemi audio), Siemens (installazioni di sicurezza), Haelg (sistema di ventilazione), Bouygues (sanitari), D.E.S. (estintori), Schindler (ascensori), Belloni (partizioni, opere pittoriche), Delta (partizioni vetrate), André (porte interne in legno, mobili in legno), Schwab System (carpenteria) Smartex (pavimenti in legno), Ginox (accessori per la cucina), Nota Bene (segnaletica)
Secante (illuminazione sala principale), ATEA (illuminazione sala modulare), FLOS (illuminazione spazi d’accoglienza del pubblico), Impact LD (illuminazione spazi pubblici), Luce MS (illuminazione segnaletica di facciata), Sammode (illuminazione sale prove e laboratori), Regent (illuminazione edificio), HOAC (gradinate sala modulare).

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