Lappeenranta Theatre

The concept of the Lappeenranta City Theatre is exceptional: the theater 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. Millions of people visiting the shopping center annually will be able to enjoy a variety of plays, while the restaurants cater for intermissions and the hotel offers accommodation.

The foyer has a calm monochromatic atmosphere in contrast with the bright colors of the shopping center. Only an undulating wire mesh curtain separates the foyer from the shopping arcade below. The audience reaches the theater by walking up a grand staircase leading to the foyer. The mirrored surfaces blur the shape and extent of the space. During the day the skylight multiplies the hues of the sky onto the foil surfaces. During the darker hours, the walls reflect the lights of the shopping arcade.

The new theater is a monument to functionality: virtually all its facilities are on stage level. This is the ideal situation as all actions in a theater are directed towards the stage and the schedules are generally extremely tight. The stage sets arrive from the basement loading dock to the center of the workshop by a large lift. After assembly, the sets can be pushed directly onto one of the two stages or into the 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 mainly working on and around stage.

Foyer, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Ceiling and wall surfaces of the foyer, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Wall surface detail, foyer, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Theater director Timo Sokura in the foyer, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Wire mesh detail, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Large theater hall, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Wall modulation detail, large theater hall, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Revolving stage, large theater hall, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Large theater hall, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Wall modulation, large theater hall, photo: Marc Goodwin
Small theater hall, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Wall modulation detail, small theater hall, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Rehearsal hall, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Service corridor, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Costume shop, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Staircase leading to the theater, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Shopping arcade and the theater foyer, photo: Jari Lifländer
Theater level

NAME: Lappeenranta City Theatre

TYPE: Commission, 2011

STATUS: Built, open to public since January 2016

LOCATION: Lappeenranta, Finland

CLIENT: City of Lappeenranta

PROGRAM: Theater with two stages, rehearsal hall and support spaces, 5.300 m2 total

TEAM: ALA Partners Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston with Harri Ahokas, Auvo Lindroos, Tiina Juuti, Marlene Oberli-Räihä, Julius Kekoni, Pekka Sivula, Niklas Mahlberg, Tonny Jensen, Mikko Kilpeläinen, Martin Allen, Vladimir Ilic, Anders Jönsson, Sari Vesanen, Santtu Hyvärinen and Mirja Sillanpää


COLLABORATORS: Sweco PM (project management, implementation phase), ISS Proko (project management, sketch phase), Finnmap Consulting (structural design), L2 Fire Safety (fire safety), Insinööri Studio (HVAC), Pöyry Finland (electrical engineering), Akukon (acoustical engineering), Kokos (AV design), Akumek (stage mechanics), Cederqvist & Jäntti Architects (architect, shopping center) and Evälahti (contractor)