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Culture centre opens with music and talk

The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, has officially opened Lucerne's acclaimed new Culture and Congress Centre. The centre opens its doors to the public this weekend with a programme which will see the whole building swing into action.

This content was published on March 22, 2000 - 00:07

The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, has officially opened Lucerne's acclaimed new Culture and Congress Centre. The centre opens its doors to the public this weekend with a programme which will see the whole building swing into action.

Villiger said the centre was a symbol of success that would spread throughout the country.

For three days, the lakeside centre is hosting a "Congress of Voices". In one part of the building a conference on the theme "Visions for Switzerland" is expected to lead to lively discussion, with well-known and controversial personalities taking part.

But elsewhere there will be harmony, with choral music in the acoustically-perfect auditorium. The programme also includes music by traditional and pop vocalists, and a local brass band.

Organising committee chairman Andreas Balthasar says the celebrations are a way of saying thank you to the people of Lucerne and the surrounding cantons for their support since the idea of a new culture and congress centre was proposed 15 years ago. "At first I was one of the opponents of such a centre," he said, "but now I think it's fabulous and full of possibilities."

The building has been referred to as the new jewel in Lucerne's crown. "It will make Lucerne's image even brighter," says the mayor, Urs W.Studer. "The local government and the people are extremely proud of it."

Designed by leading French architect, Jean Nouvel, the building has a flat roof, the size of two soccer fields, with a huge cantilever jutting out. Beneath the cantilever, water channels penetrate deep into the structure, while just a few metres away is Lake Lucerne.

Inside, its heart is no less dramatic - a white-walled auditorium with nearly 2,000 seats beneath a high ceiling of midnight blue.

The final touch will be added to the culture centre in May with the official opening there of a new home for Lucerne's Museum of Fine Arts.

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