Arup Study Sets the Stage for Innovative New Performing Arts Venue in European Cultural Hub

Arup.New Theatre Lucerne - Salle Modulable - Fotomontage_TheaterplatzArup.New Theatre Lucerne - Salle Modulable - 2

Interdisciplinary design and planning firm help project stakeholders define a facility that supports exploration and experimentation in the future of dramatic performances with music.

Arup.New Theatre Lucerne - Salle Modulable - Volumenstudie_TheaterplatzOn April 5, 2016, the Stiftung Salle Modulable released the “New Theatre Lucerne Strategic Planning and Feasibility Study” produced by Arup, the interdisciplinary engineering, consulting, and design services firm. The study presents a holistic technical concept for the ground-breaking new theatre, defining design requirements in the context of a broader public sector plan to create new infrastructure for the arts community in Lucerne.

The newly released study builds on earlier work where Arup assisted the Stiftung Salle Modulable to define a vision and key requirements for the project. The technical concept included in the study will serve as a basis for the architectural design process to follow, subsequent to the planned international architectural design competition. “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,” says Hubert Achermann, Chairman of Stiftung Salle Modulable.

Arup.New Theatre Lucerne - Salle Modulable - Situationsskizze_Inseli_NachtLucerne enjoys a global reputation as a music capital of Europe through the acclaimed Lucerne Festival, the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern facility with its internationally celebrated concert hall. This project aims to build on that reputation, adding a focus for creative and experimental dramatic performances with music, providing a platform for the Lucerne Theatre and the independent theatre companies in the area with a world-class arena to showcase their work. At the same time, the Lucerne Festival will be expanding its profile featuring creative exploration in opera and other dramatic forms with music.

The New Theatre Lucerne / Salle Modulable aspires to become a cultural focal point of the city and the home of the entire theatre community of Lucerne. Centrally located in the southern portion of Inseli, a park within walking distance of the central transportation hubs, the theatre will be convenient to other arts venues, making it a defining component of the city’s cultural infrastructure.

Arup’s performing arts team in New York lead a team that leveraged the firm’s global expertise in performances art venues, working with colleagues in Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The comprehensive study, which outlines the vision, concept framework and technical concept, also analyzes the project’s feasibility with regards to site evaluation, construction cost modeling, operational requirements, and project planning recommendations for the venue. This report is a key milestone in Arup’s broader role as client advisor role in supporting the realization of this landmark project.

Tateo Nakajima, Arup Principal and Project Director, notes that guiding the client through the early pre-design planning process is critical to mitigating project risks. “By leveraging our global experience with a wide range of cultural and performance arts venues,” says Nakajima, “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.”

Arup.New Theatre Lucerne - Salle Modulable - Modell_Flachboden_BalkoneWhen realized, the New Theatre will be a transformative environment, inspired by the Salle Modulable proposal created by the late composer and conductor Pierre Boulez. A key element of the design is the unique flexible infrastructure that will serve as a platform for a wide range of creative performances. Movable balconies, lifts, sophisticated overhead rigging systems, and immersive sound and video infrastructure are some of the key elements that will enable artists to explore novel, flexible forms and creative experiments in the areas of musical theatre, opera, dance, and drama.

Arup Principal and Global Acoustics and Theater Consulting Leader Raj Patel said, “Through our work, we are very close to understanding the needs of both traditional and contemporary artists. We work closely with our clients and their artistic stakeholders to define spaces where the boundary between audience and artist can be a space for exploration. The New Theatre aspires to create a new paradigm for performance art and live music experiences.”

Arup has worked in an advisory capacity similar to this concept-through-completion role in the New Theatre Lucerne / Salle Modulable project for several recently completed cultural institutions, including the National Music Forum in Wroclaw, Poland; the Star Performing Arts Centre in Singapore; Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre, Iceland, and La Maison Symphonique in Montreal. The firm has contributed its performing arts expertise to numerous iconic arts buildings, including The Sage – Gateshead, Oslo Opera House, Melbourne Recital Hall, the Copenhagen Opera House, and the new Opera House in Athens and the Grand Theatre de Rabat in Morocco (both currently under construction).

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About Arup

The preeminent provider of interdisciplinary engineering, consulting, and design services, Arup drives the world’s most prominent projects, from city-building to iconic architecture. The firm opened its first US office over 30 years ago, and now employs 1,300 people in the Americas. Since its founding in 1946, Arup has pioneered groundbreaking strategies, technical excellence, and social purpose. As a responsive and respectful business partner, Arup honorably serves its clients and shapes a better world. For additional information, visit Arup’s website at and the online magazine of Arup in the Americas at