Industrial character transformed
PARIS (FR) - The challenge facing Paris-based Bang Architectes regarding the recently completed conversion of a dilapidated concrete hall in the former industrial district of Calais was twofold: repurposing the old structure in a safe and attractive manner with respect to both its new function and the existing context, and expressing this transformation in an effective manner, one that would entice potential users into the building. By removing the closed nature of the industrial hall, allowing daylight into the heart of the building via perforations on one end and large windows on the opposite, the architects have negated its former hermetic and unwelcoming nature.
Pivotal in the conversion's expression – its signal to the surrounding area that something new, different and full of energy is taking place there – is the bright orange metal mesh which encases the front of the structure. The mesh allows views of the activity inside, and simultaneously shades the interior space from direct sunlight. It is doubled with curtain wall that screens the skating area from wind and weather, with the added benefit of dampening the inevitable clamour of skateboards and youth for nearby residents.
The conspicuous metal mesh, in combination with two protrusions extending beyond the existing gable at the front, totally reinvigorates the architectural character of the site. These deformations in the structure's existing lines are essential to its new character. According to the architects, 'The architectural expression is unified by a common envelope made of expanded metal, which turns the silhouette from a hanger into a prism protruding from a singular hybrid form.' One protrusion forms continuity on the ground between interior and exterior, while the other, a cantilevered projection, functions as a high starting point for the skateboarders, where gravity launches them into the complex system of ramps and rails that makes up the recreational terrain.
Maximum use has been made of the 2750 m2 floor area, with long trajectories for skateboarders running the length of the hall, as well as ample room for spectators. A walkway both separates and integrates the youth centre and skating facilities within the space, allowing access to one while creating a protected area from which to view the other. Acoustic fabric covers the long wall and absorbs the reverberations of the hard interior surfaces, namely the wood that forms the various skating modules. Likewise, a series of baffles suspended from the undulating ceiling contributes to noise reduction and user comfort, disguising the hall's previous features and making the metamorphosis complete.
Wednesday | 22 February | 2012 | France | Dutton R. Hauhart