Treasured marketplace from 1868 reinvented as sports and culture facility by studioMilou
One of the last surviving examples of metal-framed architecture in Paris reopened to the public last month following an elegant transformation by studioMilou architecture. The Carreau du Temple opened in 1868 as a covered marketplace selling everything from carpets to fashion accessories and was a regular stop for ‘ordinary clothes for regular budgets and for the well dressed’.
After many decades hosting major events such as the inaugural Paris Fair in 1904 alongside hundreds of market stalls aimed at the working classes, the structure was marked for demolition in 1976. Fortunately, a petition of 5,000 names saved the building from destruction and six years later it was awarded protection by the inventaire supplementaire des monuments historiques.
studioMilou architecture was brought in through an invited competition in 2007 to transform the aged structure into a graceful public facility capable of meeting the needs of modern users and, following a period of consultation with local residents, it was decided that The Carreau du Temple would be adapted into a centre for sports and cultural activities.
From the outset it was made clear that the building was to maintain many of the key elements that originally defined it and studioMilou architecture was keen to ‘idealise’ the listed monument. In order to achieve this, the team replaced the masonry wall that once enclosed the structure with one of glass, steel and wood so that passers-by may visually engage with activities inside the building.
The work was done in such a way as to give the façades exactly the right width for their reinforcement with new steel pillars, to isolate them from the rest of the building, and to insert doors into them that would open outwards with an extension of less than 20 cm onto the exterior as required by the regulations. This has meant that the façades of the Carreau have not needed to be thickened to contain double sets of doors or emergency exits.
The scheme expanded the existing 3,500 sq m structure by inserting two lower levels to provide facilities for sport, dance and sound performance and recording. The new 9,045 sq m building also includes a 250-seat auditorium at ground floor level and three generous halls with flexible space for a multitude of uses.
These three halls all feature glazed roofs so that ‘the Carreau opens up to the skies and surrounds, allowing natural light to bathe the interior’. Solar panels have also been installed in the roof system and the overall look of the zinc roof covering has been retained to conserve the Parisian character integral to this heritage building.
Internally, the listing authorities requested that the contemporary measures were clearly visible in contrast to the original structure so studioMilou selected oak as the main finishing material; the warm tones of this particular wood highlight the metallic structure of the building. Within the three main halls, a second skin of oak panelling has been inserted 45cm from the metal arches and exterior pillars to meet thermal and acoustic regulations.