With the paint barely dry on the viaduct at Millau, Foster and Partners is set to add another iconic building to the southern French landscape

Architect Foster and Partners has won an international architectural competition to design a major music and cultural venue called Zenith in the southern French city of Saint-Etienne.

Norman Foster’s practice beat off stiff competition from Rem Koolhaas’ Office of Metropolitan Architecture, French duo Odile Decq + Benoît Cornette, and Francis Soler.

The £16.6m Zenith will be the first such cultural venue to be built in the RHônes-Alpes region of central southern France. It is intended to kick-start the cultural and regeneration initiatives planned by the client, regeneration agency Saint-Etienne Métropole.

Foster’s aerodynamic design has a cantilevered roof that acts as a scoop to channel and intensify the wind flow, directing it through the building to ventilate the auditorium naturally. The auditorium itself can be configured for audiences ranging from 1100 to 7500.

The Zenith centre is a partly government-funded concept to bring cultural amenities to regions where they are lacking.

The venue is scheduled to open at the end of 2007.