SOCIAL AFFAIRS DESK
2024 DELIVERY DATE
A COMMUNAL MEDIA LIBRARY AND A PUBLIC SERVICES CENTRE
ON THE DAY OF MY FIRST VISIT TO BRICQUEBEC.
I walk along the Rue de la République: shops and various institutions follow one another, along with the town hall, and I naturally head for the heights of the castle, whose imposing donjon overlooks the landscape. You enter through a large porch, after passing the statue of Jean Le Marois, a locally-born Napoleon’s general, who led the Normandy troops during the defeat at Waterloo. The meeting place is on the other side of the ramparts. A huge car park, which hosts a large market on Saturdays, adjoins our site on the other side of the crossroads. There, a derelict minimarket awaits demolition. It is quite plain that this place deserves a radical transformation. My gaze wanders and probes the surrounding relief…
« THE UPWARD MOVEMENT FROM THE CAFÉ TO THE SITE IS AN ALMOST STRAIGHT LINE. IT ARTICULATES CENTRES OF POWER AND GOVERNANCE, ALL SYMBOLS OF PREFERMENT: THE MAYOR IS ELECTED, THE GENERAL PROMOTED, THE LORD ANOINTED, THE CHRIST… RECALLED TO HEAVEN. »
AN UPWARD MOVEMENT
the hill behind the minimarket. I find it a pity that it is off-centre in relation to the castle, making it difficult to access via a chicane from the market square. The axis structuring the both ancient or modern institutions – town hall, castle, church – could have been laid out in a more harmonious and coherent way. The following questions then arise: can this new project contribute to the development of a better pedestrian access to the church and the upper parts of the town from the market square? Beyond its own functionality, can it improve the more general urban traffic flow, which is very difficult here? The upward movement from the café to the site is an almost straight line. It articulates centres of power and governance, all symbols of preferment: the mayor is elected, the general promoted, the lord anointed, the Christ… recalled to heaven. In its own way, a media library also contributes to a form of upliftment and grandeur, but through knowledge, pleasure, learning and openness to the world. At the same time, the programme reveals, through its functional grouping, the possibility of a stronger social cohesion: with the media library, of course, but also with the activity room, with the social services, with the maternal assistance centre and with the reception of the public. At the heart of the site, the growing perception of a building in degrees is becoming clearer. A monumental staircase carved in the negative will lead to the entrance of the church and to the upper town districts. It will be clad in stone and protected by a brass railing, imparting it grandeur and elegance. Underneath this will be an alcove for the young ones, ideal for reading tales and stories. Horizontal arrow slits towards the rue du 11 Novembre will allow for a colourful light to shine through. On each side, large bay windows will come with the ascent of the outside stairs and will flood the large volume with zenithal light.
A VOLUMES-FRAGMENTED LAYOUT AT APPROPRIATE LEVELS
This sensitive approach guides us towards a fragmented organisation in several appropriate volumes and heights, so as to extend and materialise this idea of progressive ascent. The previous reading of a guide on the Cotentin region – which recalls the traditional grouping of buildings around a courtyard – finds an echo in this orientation and consolidates this desire to work the volumes in different levels of masses.
«IN THIS COUNTRY WHERE THE WIND BLOWS AND THE SEA SPRAY LICKS THE FACADES, THE HOUSES ARE HUDDLED TOGETHER TO FORM WELL-SHELTERED COMPLEXES. AROUND THE RECTANGULAR COURTYARD, THE SCATTERED BUILDINGS FACE EACH OTHER… THE SOLID HOUSES OF SANDSTONE, SHALE OR GRANITE ARE GROUPED TOGETHER, SOMETIMES HUDDLED IN A GROUND FOLD, THE STURDY ROOFS ARE COVERED WITH HEAVY SHALE SLABS GIVING A FIERCE RESISTANCE TO THE WIND.»
EXTRACT FROM A GUIDE TO THE COTENTIN REGION
Known for its wooden countrysides, the region has steep rock masses of shale, sandstone or granite, extracted, cut and assembled for generations to protect themselves from the elements. The composition of our project will therefore be inspired by this juxtaposition of boulders organised in courtyards, alleys, faults or stairways. Here, as elsewhere, we will use locally-extracted aggregate to create an architectural concrete that reveals and respects this long architectural history. Our work will consist of methodically subtracting material to make room for a reception area, an interior courtyard, distribution paths and a monumental staircase. The stone forecourt will allow the distribution of the public. It will be in front of the crossroad and will be extended by a large glass window opening onto the reception hall where all the activities will be located. This glass frame will reveal the interior of the media library and the movements of visitors. Distributive walkways, for access to the technical premises or to escape (emergency exits), will sculpt the volumes and orient the gaze of the onlooker. Solid flat roofs in concrete slabs will be identical to the facades, at various heights; some higher to hide bulky neighbours, others lower to envelop the activities at the right dimensions. At the foot of the church, a roof will become a water basin to reflect the sky…
AROUND AN INTERIOR COURTYARD, THE HUB OF ALL POSSIBILITIES
Access will be on the same level through large sliding glass windows. In this project, light and visual perceptions play a major role. The largely glazed hall, positioned at the intersection of two volumes, will allow perfect legibility of the flows necessary to control the entry and exit of users. This transparency offers a glimpse of the interior life to entice the public of the premises, while exposing the beauty of the exterior landscape, with the donjon and the church under a perpetually-changing sky. The hall will bring together the functions of reception, public orientation, tourist information point, shop and press point. Multi-purpose furniture is to be installed in harmony with the architecture developed. The interior organisation will be based primarily on an inner courtyard in order to distribute views and movement. This courtyard will distribute natural light towards the major spaces such as the hall, the media library, the nursery place and the administration offices. It will protect them from external interactions to guarantee confidentiality or security, to welcome children’s games or to improve the concentration or meditation of readers thanks to the presence of a miniaturised nature. The spaces of the media library have been positioned on the public space along the rue du 11 November. Widely open to the inner courtyard and the hall, they will offer the serenity and calm required for focusing and learning in peace.
« THIS SENSITIVE APPROACH GUIDES US TOWARDS A FRAGMENTED ORGANISATION IN SEVERAL APPROPRIATE VOLUMES AND HEIGHTS, SO AS TO MATERIALISE THIS IDEA OF PROGRESSIVE ASCENT.»
Thanks to its configuration, its location and its internal organisation, this media library and public services centre project will contribute to the building of an alert and attentive public, seeking to acquire even more freedom through exchanges and reasoning. A public facility symbolises and always represents this « bonding place», which creates and then extends dialogues and encounters, and thus contributes to more tolerance and fraternity.
«A PUBLIC FACILITY ALWAYS SYMBOLISES AND REPRESENTS THIS «BONDING PLACE», WHICH CREATES AND THEN EXTENDS DIALOGUES AND ENCOUNTERS, AND THUS CONTRIBUTES TO MORE TOLERANCE AND BROTHERHOOD.»
cherbourg en cotentin
région normandie, cherbourg en cotentin, commune de bricquebec, Etat, La Communauté Européenne
TOWN AND CONURBATION
ASSISTANT project manager
yvanie wilhem, francesco andreozzi
claudio pantano et Tijani Loussaeif