The new La Source Vive concert hall in Évian
PCA-STREAM

The new La Source Vive concert hall in Évian

25 Apr 2023  •  ニュース  •  By Gerard McGuickin

La Source Vive in Évian, France, is a new concert hall dedicated to chamber music. The hall’s imaginative conch-like form is the result of a collaboration between architects Patrick Bouchain and Philippe Chiambaretta.

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM

The La Source Vive project originates from philanthropist Aline Foriel-Destezet’s passion and commitment to promoting music. It is born from her desire to support the creation of an architectural complex, one that features a distinctive and dedicated concert hall for chamber music. La Source Vive is located in close proximity to the larger auditorium La Grange au Lac, a celebrated musical institution that was designed in 1993 by Bouchain.

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM

Design and construction

A 500-seat music venue, La Source Vive is also suited to recordings, and includes a new foyer and a backstage building. The venue is designed with an emphasis on its acoustics, and employs an experimental form that hybridizes the two most common types of auditorium layout: a rectangular “shoebox” design and a “vineyard” design, welcoming the public in sloped rows around the artists. La Source Vive also capitalizes on the topography of the site: assembling the audience around the music makes the most of a natural clearing in the woods. As a result, the concert hall’s design combines an oval floor plan and a conical section — together, its volume and height provide an optimal volume of 11 m³ per member of the audience.

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM

Set in an enchanting location, it is important that La Source Vive minimizes any disruption to the surrounding natural environment and blends in with the forest. A sensory analysis of the site (taking account of trees, daylight, flora and fauna, and topography) led the architects to separate the foyer, concert hall, and backstage building: the foyer is rebuilt over a previous one; the auditorium is positioned higher — in a forest glade — which avoids cutting down any healthy trees; and the backstage building is located a little higher again, alongside an existing road, thus facilitating technical access. Musicians and their instruments access the concert hall via a rear elevator that descends from the backstage building; audience members access the hall via the foyer, through an entrance beneath. This arrangement creates a logical pattern of pedestrian flows.

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM

A sensory experience

In the vanguard of acoustic design, La Source Vive’s state-of-the-art acoustics are engineered specifically for chamber music by renowned acoustician Albert Xu. Xu’s work can be heard in major concert halls around the world and his expertise informed the new concert hall’s geometry, volume, surface materials, and techniques. Like a musical instrument, La Source Vive is equipped with devices that will allow on-site adjustments, made by ear, at the end of its construction. Alongside its acoustic design, the audience’s visual comfort is ensured by the concert hall’s oval shape and asymmetry of the tiered stands.

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM

The overall sensory experience is highlighted by the journey to the hall: from a glazed foyer that opens to nature, audience members proceed towards the music via a passage that appears to be carved through rock, along a covered walkway, then into a vestibule, before entering the bright concert hall. La Source Vive’s design incorporates an oculus, ensuring it is exposed to natural daylight (particularly ideal for rehearsal times).

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM

Combining science and intuition

La Source Vive is an ambitious project that required a combination of sensitivity, experimentation, and scientific analysis. To realize the project, Patrick Bouchain turned to Philippe Chiambaretta. Bouchain’s intuitions and material work were made concrete through analysis and modeling carried out by teams from PCA-STREAM (Chiambaretta’s studio). Rather than rely solely on intuition, the aim was to quantify and scientifically determine an optimum for each criterion — a complementarity of scientific and sensory approaches. PCA-STREAM’s precise modeling facilitated the development of first-rate acoustics, visual comfort, and an optimization of the complex’s overall structure. 

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM

The experimental dimension behind La Source Vive runs parallel to a construction process where everything is custom-made and crafted by artisans: a meeting between science and art.

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM

Materials

For La Source Vive’s construction, an emphasis is placed on the use of natural and local materials. The building is clad in tiles made of pre-aged copper — a natural material, it promotes an integration of the concert hall with the trees. As a notable counterpoint to the hall’s exterior, its bright, white interior is finished in raw, unpainted plaster. The backstage building draws on details from vernacular architecture and the foyer offers a discrete tribute to the Buvette Novarina-Prouvé, a nearby iconic modernist building. In both structures, traditional techniques for roofing and carpentry are employed. Local materials include wood, Morzine slate, and Meillerie stone.

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM
photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM

Upon its planned completion in 2025, La Source Vive will form a unified complex with La Grange au Lac. Two spaces with two distinct personalities, the concert halls will expand the range and number of performances and projects, with expansive year-round musical programming.

photo_credit PCA-STREAM
PCA-STREAM
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