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GKD: Clearing the stage for metallic mesh

Protective roof for Roman theatre in France

The Chorégies d’Orange opera festival is famed for its splendid acoustics in a stunning setting. It is held in an old Roman theatre in the south of France that dates back approximately two thousand years, attracting international opera stars and aficionados as well as innumerable tourists. Since 1981 the theatre in Orange has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and, thanks to numerous conservation measures, it is still fulfilling its millennia-old purpose today. An ingenious roof construction above the stage prevents the ancient stonework from falling into decay. Around 1,000 square metres of stainless steel mesh made by GKD –Gebr. Kufferath AG from Düren, Germany make the construction a real treat for the eyes AND the ears.

As a model of Roman architecture the ancient theatre impresses with its outstanding acoustics, which makes it perfect for first-class musical and theatrical performances. The new roof needed to retain this characteristic. The greatest challenge was the sheer size of the 38-metre-high and 103-metre-wide stone stage wall, which is already beginning to crumble. A heavy roof would have placed a great load on it, which is why reconstructing the original solid wooden roof was out of the question. The architect Didier Repellin, who has proven his talents with projects such as the restoration of the famous Villa Medici in Rome, came up with an ambitious solution to the problem. His plans were based on the modern contrast of a glass and steel construction. In order to take the strain off the antique walls, steel girders support the 200-ton roof. The underside of the glass roof construction was hung with GKD Escale 7x1 stainless steel mesh. This mesh type has a free area of 50 percent and casts light shade onto the stage in daylight while giving the appearance of an open awning. With the help of special lighting in the evening, the shiny texture provides fascinating light effects. This is the first time that the subtle elegance and neutral acoustic properties of the spiral mesh have been used in the restoration of an antique building, permanently ensuring unimpeded cultural enjoyment on the historical stage.

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