LA LLOTJA THEATRE AND CONFERENCE CENTRE 2010
The mountain with its historic cathedral Seu Vella and the Segre River marks the high point and low point of Lleida (Lerida), the second city of Catolonia, following Barcelona. La Llotja theatre and conference center sits on the banks of the Segre, somewhat outside the centre of the city. Mecanoo’s design interprets the landscape of Lleida as the exciting scenery before which the building has been placed, somewhat further from the river. The mise-en-scène is elaborated on three levels of scale. Regarded from the large scale of the region, the building forms a link between the river and the mountain. Viewed from the urban scale, La Llotja and the river form a balanced composition. At street level the cantilevers of La Llotja de Lleida provide protection from sun and rain.
The large stone edifice seems to have sprouted from the Spanish earth. The building’s horizontal form provides a large garden on the roof, while under the cantilevers begins a square for events, with the stairs of the adjacent building serving as a tribune. Parking has been created underground with the loading area for trucks on the ground level, the same level where the theatre stage, dressing rooms and restaurant kitchen are found. Small trucks can load and unload on level -1. In a light court in the centre of the building, a monumental staircase rises from street level to the multifunctional hall on the first floor. A ramp leads on to the foyer on the second level where there is a panoramic window looking out across the city and the river. The entrances to the theatre, which also serve as a large conference hall, meeting rooms and a small conference room are located in the foyer. The latter is visually connected to the multifunctional hall by means of a raked tribune separated by a glass wall. The press office, VIP rooms and a meeting centre are situated on the city side of the building, accessed by an internal corridor. The entire functional logistics for the theatre and the conference centre are situated inconspicuously but extremely functionally. Restaurants with bars are located on the side of La Llotja facing the river and the square. The monolithic building is in fact composed of different pieces of buildings linked together by sound-absorbing foyers.
Materials ensure distinction and orientation in the interior. The exterior is of stone. Inside there are mainly white, plastered walls and either wooden or marble floors. The entrance hall and the multi-functional hall have a marble floor, while the foyer has a floor of mixed hardwood. The theatre has the atmosphere of an orchard with walls of dark wood in which trees of light have been cut out. Thousands of leaves on the ceiling light the hall. The colour palette of fruit is a theme that recurs in small details throughout the building. After all, the region of Lleida is famous for its fruit production. The roof is colourful: pergolas support a range of creepers and climbers like roses, jasmine and ivy. The garden with its mirador is not only pleasant but also useful since the roof cover keeps the building cool in the summer, provides a beautiful view for people living in the neighbourhood and serves an extra place for conference guests to sojourn.