The jury of the international competition for the Cité du Théâtre (City of the Theater) in Paris, convened by the French Ministry of Culture and three prestigious theatrical institutions -the Comédie-Française, the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique and the Théâtre National de I'Odéon awarded the First Prize to the project of the team led by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos (Madrid-Berlin), with the collaboration of the associated French office Marin+Trottin Architectes (Paris). The future ensemble will be located in the Ateliers Berthier, belonging to the Ministry of Culture, built in 1895 by Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris Opera. After a first phase in which ten international architectural firms were selected, finalists were Nieto Sobejano (Spain), Fabre Speller (France) and Foster + Partners (Great Britain) who later developed their proposals in a second phase.
The winning project of Nieto Sobejano, is based on the creation of a large elevated garden that establishes a visual continuity with the Martin Luther King Park located on the other side of Avenue Berthier. This garden, conceived as a wide urban stage, accentuates the protagonism of the Garnier buildings, which will be restored respecting their structure and materiality. A long building with a vegetal facade of more than 200 meters in length, unifies and embraces the ensemble as a large background curtain, following the geometry of the historical nineteenth century wall of Thiers whose existing remains will be preserved and restored. The Cité du Théâtre - with an area of â�â�24.000 m2 - will house a program of uses that includes the construction of six new modular theater halls, for the Comédie-Française (of 250 and 600 spectators), for the Théâtre National de I'Odéon (of 250 and 500 spectators) and for the Conservatoire National (100 and 200 spectators). The Garnier Hall, listed as a Historical Monument, will become a large covered public space that will give access to the common areas to the three institutions: workshops, classrooms, didactic rooms, library-media library and restaurants. The project is aware of the essential role of architecture in sustainable urban development. It will generate a new public space for citizens, preserving the existing historical structures and providing green spaces that will transform the Cité du Théâtre into one of the great cultural centers of Paris.
The project is currently shown in the exhibition “Urbainable/Stadthaltig. Positions on the European City for the 21st century” at the Academy of the Arts in Berlin.
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos was founded by Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano and has offices in Madrid and Berlin. Along with being widely published in international magazines and books, the firm’s work has been exhibited at the Biennale di Venezia in 2000, 2002, 2006, and 2012, at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, in 2006, at the Kunsthaus in Graz in 2008 and at the MAST Foundation in Bologna, Italy in 2014. They are the recipients of the 2008 National Prize for Restoration from the Spanish Ministry of Culture and the 2010 Nike Prize issued by the Bund Deutscher Architekten (BDA), as well as the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2010, the Piranesi Prix de Rome in 2011, the European Museum of the Year Award (2012), the Hannes Meyer Prize (2012), the Alvar Aalto Medal (2015) and the Gold Medal to the Merit of the Fine Arts (Spain 2017). Their major works include the Madinat al-Zahra Museum, the Moritzburg Museum in Halle, the San Telmo Museum in San Sebastián, the Zaragoza Congress Centre, the Martin Chirino Foundation in Las Palmas, the Joanneum Museum extension in Graz, the Contemporary Art Centre in Córdoba and the Arvo Pärt Centre in Estonia. Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos is currently working on projects in several countries, among them, the extension of the Archaeologische Staatssammlung in Munich the extension of the Museo Sorolla in Madrid the Montblanc Haus in Hamburg, the Königshof Hotel in Munich, the Archive of the Avant-gard in Dresden and the Carmen Thyssen Musem in Girona. Four monographs have been recently published on their work: "Nieto Sobejano. Memory and Invention" (Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Germany, 2013), "Fuensanta Nieto, Enrique Sobejano. Architetture" (Mondadori Electa Spa, Milano, Italy, 2014), "Nieto Sobejano Arquitectura 2004-2017" (TC Cuadernos 131/132, Valencia, Spain, 2017) and “Arvo Pärt Centre & Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos - A Common Denominator” (ArchiTangle, Berlin, 2020).