Modern extension to former convent in France completed by Opus 5
French architects Opus 5 have recently completed construction of a concert hall on top of a former seventeenth century convent in northern France. The monastery was built between 1646 and 1659 for the Franciscan brethren, and consisted of a church in the west with two conventual wings surrounding the central building. The convent, in Normandy, has served a variety of uses over the years and has housed a church, a prison and a tribunal court, but was converted into a music school in 1990.
The brief given to Opus 5 was to create a design which offered Louviers convent a new musical school building which would be modern, functional, attractive, which aptly represented the town’s cultural policy. The idea was also to highlight the archaeological heritage and its exceptional site in the heart of the city.
Another project objective for Opus was to create a new, updated image of the site in order to shed its prison-esque characteristics. The New Musical School of Louviers, in the convent of the Penitents - 24 classrooms, a score library and two big orchestra rooms - was problematic in terms of rehabilitation, because of a heavy programme implicating substantial interventions. The contemporary extensions had become more important than the existing building.
A glass-fronted extension wraps over the southern wing of the complex, creating an orchestral hall with an undulating mirrored ceiling on the uppermost floor and a music library on the first floor below. A new entrance foyer is located behind the ground floor cloisters, which have been filled in with glazing to provide visitors with a view out over the river running alongside. The remaining facades of the extension are windowless and clad with concrete panels.
The second extension, replacing the missing parts of the south wing, exposes its front to the water, towards the cloister and the city. It hosts the major element of the program: the big orchestra hall, and fits in a simple rectangular glass box with chrome stripes reflecting the surrounding environment and fading in the sky.
The North façade is made of laminated glazed panels within the inside layer, which has been coated with a mirrored finish (titanium, siliconitride, and chrome). The frontier façades are made of prefabricated concrete panels of 8 cm thickness/180 cm width and of variable heights. They are cut out to follow the surface of the ancient masonry. These panels are reinforced and attached on the extensions’ metal structure.