Architecture-Studio’s graceful designs bring the spirit of sea to the heart of town
Since its opening at the end of 2014, the new La Grande Passerelle in Saint-Malo, France, has been the first thing travellers arriving from the town’s TGV station see. Designed by Paris-based practice, Architecture-Studio, this cultural hub includes a media library, an art-house cinema, a media centre, and “4e lieu”, and a multiuse space – all located at the heart of Saint-Malo.
Taken as a whole, La Grande Passerelle expresses the metaphor of openness, a gesture inspired by the proximity of the seashore and the wish of Architecture-Studio to establish a continuity between the built structures and the geometry of the exterior areas. Around this spatial separation there are also generous public spaces, laid out in two esplanades on both sides of the building, with a small outdoor amphitheatre added to the south.
Taking advantage of its strategic geographical location between the land and the sea, La Grande Passerelle emerges and reveals the Saint-Malo historical axis that links the new TGV station with the town within its walls. The architects wanted to offer a contemporary, urban, architectural response, which is one of the challenges of the completion of this new area.
The theme of travel, chosen by the town of Saint-Malo to illustrate the relationship between the different cultural content offered by the media library and the art-house cinema, is revealed in the treatment of the building. The multiple ripples of the ground and the built structures create fluid spaces, dynamic lines, confrontations, and depth. It is reminiscent of the sea, the waves, and the sails of the ships that left Saint-Malo to explore the world.
The openness of the town towards the sea is immediately put into perspective by an immense curving ribbon linking the two cultural extremes of the centre like a bridge. This arching ribbon, clothed in 640 photovoltaic solar panels, demonstrates the commitment of the town to exemplary environmental action. Like a shade, it tops the foyer, a transparent space that crosses the building, lengthening the public space inside the centre.
The WAN 2015 Civic Buildings Awards are open for entries until 30 June 2015.