OFF Architecture and Scape's design for new Cultural Center in Cugnaux scoops first prize
The French city of Cugnaux is a low density urban development, with a historical downtown near the popular city of Toulouse. OFF Architecture recently won the competition of the Cultural Center in Cugnaux, France, in association with Duncan Lewis Scape architecture. The design proposal for the Cultural Center Paul Eluard suggested a ‘symbolic regional place for cultural exchanges’ which would ‘initiate an urban renewal for the city’, however the firms were clear that their design should not break the scale of the existing neighbourhood, mainly consisting of low density suburban fabric and dense vegetation.
The tall, compact building (36mx36mx18m) is designed to be easily identified from all over the city. Green landscaped parklands are to be introduced in order to offer shelter to actual or potential programmes, such as parking, socialising and picnicking. A vegetal canopy has also been designed to break and adapt the scale of the building to the surroundings as it is hoped the long, thin trees will frame the building’s height.
A public square is set to lead into the main entrance of the building, in an attempt to establish a strong link between the building and the city. Located on the ground floor, a spacious glazed hall has been included to act as an extension of the court, enabling a smooth flow of circulation. Besides this, the structure is set to be very compact, punctuated to its centre by a patio that spans three levels, allowing light to enter the building. All of the vertical circulations of the building are organised in a central core accessible from the main lobby.
The main amphitheatre is designed to accommodate 400 seats or 1000 standing people as the inclusion of mobile benches allow for flexibility of events, for example, fairs, banquets and dancing. Additionally, the room can be opened to the elements from the outer northeast façade to accommodate concerts and festivals. The façade is key to the entire concept of this project. It is set to act as both a protective mesh and a strong aesthetic in the local area. It in constructed as a wooden woven skin, composed of different densities and scales to provide an optimal filtering effect based on the thermal, visual and ambient qualities for each programme.