Location: 17500 Jonzac, France
Lead Architects: Michel Bertreux, Remi Tymen, Daniel Caud, Matthieu Blanche
Area: 4900 sq.m
Project Year: 2017
Photographs: Charly Broyez, Veronique Sabadel
Other Participants: CMB economist, Structure BETREC, Fludis AREA, Acoustic (ROUCH) HQE ( AREA CANOPPE) VRD (SODEREF) Scenography (Architecture & Technique)
Designed as a successor to the project of ‘Les Antilles’, an aquatic complex started in 2002 crafted by the Dutch architects Roelof and Nannie Hendricks, this structure supplements the prevailing facilities and stands as a distinctive promoter for vibrant development, for both, the local administration and the region of Haute Saintonge.
The Centre is responsible for accomplishing a number of requirements such as:
• Being a testament to the lively nature of the region
• Embolden the remarkable character of a major communal space
• Use its unique architectural style to represent the type of spatial area utilized now and in the future, by the managers of different organizations who choose this place for their meetings and
• To create its own exceptional personality without competing with the exemplary image of Les Antilles.
While the building of the Congress Centre has to fulfil the aforementioned needs with its distinctive long-term architectural quality, it also has to base it firmly in the local region setting in order to express its underlying spirit to the ones who visit.
Considering the delicate features of the Val de Seugne landscape, the architects decided to design a structure resembling a monolith embedded partly in the valley setting. The building’s evolving frontage towards the south is uncovered as a circulation gallery flooding with natural light, concluding around the theatre which is the central attraction of the design.
The commencement of the design was done with the selection of the site. A hole was unearthed in the limestone, a cellar was opened to the sky and thus, a cave was crafted. Complete with a splitting limestone karst landscape, soft steps and bright light, one returns to the cave to admire the organ pipe stalactites.
Grand Circulation Galler
The south wall of the structure is the single point of access to the complex, giving the visitor a sense of gently uniting with the building. This point is also the general entrance that controls the access of all visitors. The rear of the building is used as an entrance for the performers as well as for receiving service deliveries. Flooding with natural light, the reception area is adaptable in nature and houses the general reception desk, ticket office and a bar.
The circulation gallery is a central faction of the building, is connected directly to all the facilities. This gallery creates a muse out of its visitors, showcasing them in a different light at every point. The gallery also transforms itself into different entities such as a seminar area for the discussions to continue, a platform for rendezvous between the participants of different events and programs or as a foyer for spectators to converse about their views and observations regarding the works put up by renowned artists within the theatre.
The west sector of the building houses the seminar space divided split into two levels. These areas have the advantage of receiving soothing light from the west and of the ornamentation of lush green vegetation on the exterior slope.
Large Multifunction Hall
During an event or a show, the copious multifunction hall, known as ‘Agora’ invites the participants to the different conventions and conferences, comfortably seating 416 spectators on it’s folded tiered chairs. A stall area can also be organized for a capacity of 160 facing the lavish stage.
In the ‘Reception’ mode, the mobile tiered seats are placed in the storage space provided for this purpose, thus creating a huge, open pavilion for hosting anything such as debates, celebrations, trade shows, dating forums as also family ceremonies. The large curtains in the arena allow for acoustic comfort while letting the users conceal if need be, the opening to the excavated steps in limestone that lead to a small open-air theatre.
An acoustic buffer separates the multifunction hall and the theatre auditorium. This buffer is formed on two levels, on the ground floor by the catering and the technical rooms and by the dressing rooms on the higher levels. This space created in between on the ground floor is also used for directly accessing the two stages and the catering area through the loading dock. This eases the process of handling equipment and assisting various facilities.
The theatre auditorium, seating 300, presents tasteful décor for top quality events. A remarkable design is created by the use different waves of wood cladding the ceilings and walls. This composition helps conceal the catwalks and their lighting as also the acoustic details of the premises can be adjusted minutely. It also allows for an interior décor that is equivalent to the grandiosity and comfort of the seating area.
The public is welcomed into the premises while maintaining the fluidity of the entrances to each level as also the extensive scale of the circulation gallery doubled with its sculptural quality. The southern side of the complex boasts of a large opening that frames the surrounding landscape and engulfs the foyer with natural light while allowing the positioning of billboards to showcase the forthcoming events.
-Tanvi Naik, Volume Zero.