The building is located in a forest on the outskirts of the city, among two hundred-year-old trees. The main elements of its structure are two layers of the shell: the outer one, made of translucent polycarbonate panels on a wooden frame, and the inner one, made of Douglas pine wood. These are environmentally friendly materials that also save natural resources during the operation of the building: in particular, they allow extensive use of natural lighting and ventilation of the building. Also, the tree has excellent acoustic qualities.
The main lobby and corridors of the building are located in the space between the two shells, and inside the wooden walls there will be a concert hall proper, designed for 6,000 spectators. Depending on the need, the number of seats in it can be changed from 800 to 8,000.
This is already the 14th hall, built under the state program "Zenith". This project has been running for 25 years and aims to provide the provincial cities of France with spaces for concerts, political conventions, etc. Famous architects such as Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and Massimiliano Fuksas took part in this program. This is the second Zenith for Bernard Chumi: the first opened in Rouen in 2001.
In Limoges, the architect tried to fit the building into its natural surroundings: the silhouettes of trees shine through the outer shell of the building, and the spectators in the foyer feel like they are standing in a forest clearing.
Even the parking lot located next to the building for 1,500 cars does not stand out from the general picture: the soil on its territory is strengthened with fine gravel, which will not interfere with the growth of grass, and trees are also planted there. After the show is over, visitors to the concert hall will be able to find their cars with glowing balloons on poles, on which the numbers of the parking lots are indicated. The French landscape architect Michel Desvignes helped Chumi to design the project.
The interior of the auditorium is entirely made of wood, including the seating areas. Instead of a traditional stage, the architect allocated an empty space of 80 m by 40 m in the center of the hall, where the performances will take place.
One of the reasons for the widespread use of wood as a building material in the construction of a concert hall in Limoges was that this city is the center of the developed woodworking industry in the province of Limousin. Bernard Chumi actively uses this building material in his work, but this is his first building of this kind in France. The next will be the archaeological park on the site of the ancient city of Alesia, where the most dramatic events of the Gallic campaigns of Julius Caesar took place.