Saint-Maixent > auditorium

Saint-Maixent > auditorium

The Place d’Armes, an imposing urban esplanade with a clearly voiced function, seemed disproportionately large compared with the overall size of the town and, as it had never been intended as a town square, no urban amentities had been installed around its periphery. The plot of land designated for construction was devoid of intrinsic quality and was situated at the square’s edge, behind an opaque screen of hedging and quadruple rows of trees. This screen concealed the plot and obstructed views of the river, the Sèvre Niortaise. Yet it did constitute a facade, of almost architectural tenor, which might be meaningfully retained, or even reinforced. The plot also offered particularly interesting vistas over the wider landscape, begging to be revealed. King Kong’s design thus inserts the entrance to the new building into this green façade. The overall volume arrangement of the building is restrained and purposeful, creating a work of architecture which is far from ordinary and perfectly adapted to both site and function. The outer walls are clad in a combination of polished or brushed stainless steel, mirroring the shifting colours of the sky, trees and countryside. The sense of ambiguity thereby created helps integrate the building into its context. As the main access point is situated on the square, a spacious esplanade runs the full width of the building, signalling the shift in paving and introducing adequate urban furnishing and lighting. Glazed roofing bathes the entrance foyer in natural light, making it an ideal place for hosting exhibitions. Easy access for the general public is provided via passages beneath the tiered seating, with special facilities for people with reduced mobility. The interior inflections of the auditorium adopt the forms explored in the building’s exterior architecture, but the overall effect remains compact, with a pertinent volume ratio of stage to hall, offering good visibility and acoustics, ease and simplicity of use. The tiered seating has a variable gradient thereby creating optimum visibility for all and fostering a sense of warm intimacy bewteen the audience and the musicians, actors, dancers or conference speakers on stage.
program
construction of an auditorium and a public forum
project management
atelier d'architecture King Kong, Bureau Technique du Poitou, LBE Fluides, Ducks Scéno, ldB Acoustique
client: Town of Saint-Maixent-l'École
location: Saint-Maixent l'École (79)
surface area: 635 m²
Cost (VAT included): 1 838 300 €
date: competition 2005
images/photos: Sébastien Hommes
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