Lapeenranta City Theatre

Lappeenranta, Finland
staircase leading to the theater
Photo © Tuomas Uusheimo
theater foyer and shopping arcade
Photo © Jari Lifländer
Photo © Tuomas Uusheimo
large theater hall
Photo © Tuomas Uusheimo
small theater hall
Photo © Tuomas Uusheimo
rehearsal hall
Photo © Tuomas Uusheimo
costume shop
Photo © Tuomas Uusheimo
ALA Architects
Kaivokatu 5, 53100 Lappeenranta, Finland
City of Lappeenranta

The concept of the Lappeenranta Theatre is exceptional: it has been built on the top floor of a shopping center. The idea, however, is ancient as this is theater coming back to its roots, back to the marketplace, back to the people. The visitors to the shopping center will be able to enjoy a variety of plays, while the restaurants cater for intermissions and the adjacent hotel offers accommodation. The foyer of the theater, accessible only from and opening to the shopping arcade, has a calm monochromatic atmosphere in contrast with the bright colors of the arcade below. Only an undulating wire mesh curtain separates it from the shopping areas.

The audience reaches the theater by walking up a grand white staircase at the end of the arcade. The mirrored surfaces of the foyer blur the shape and extent of the space. In daytime the skylight multiplies the hues of the sky onto the foil surfaces. In the darker hours, the walls reflect the lights of the arcade.

Virtually all the facilities of the theater are on stage level. This is the ideal situation as all actions are directed towards the stage. The stage sets are brought from the basement loading dock to the center of the workshop with a large lift. After assembly, the sets can be pushed directly onto one of the stages or into the full-size rehearsal hall. The support spaces outline the halls in a linear procession from the spaces for the technical personnel onwards to props, costume shop and the dressing rooms. This means that the entire theater only has one single corridor instead of the usual incoherent jungle of backstage spaces. The solution also provides all backspaces with ample daylight, which is of great importance for the professionals working on and around stage.

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