Saint-Nazaire > centre for the Loire estuary

Saint-Nazaire > centre for the Loire estuary

The new Centre for Understanding and Promoting the Loire Estuary is essential to Saint Nazaire’s vocation as a leading city and port. Research carried out by both French and international researchers points to Saint Nazaire’s across the board success in this light and holds it up as an inspirational model. The site chosen for the new centre is emblematic and is set in the Petit Maroc (or Little Morocco) area. It is one of the city’s most beautiful spots, where the freshwater of the Loire meets and mingles with the salty waters of the ocean. The aim was to create a resource centre brimming with potential, keen to maintain its standing and develop its international status as an eloquent spearhead for the area’s future development. The planned demolition of a number of buildings situated around the pumping station freed up space and access in the area, allowing pedestrian pathways to be introduced and providing an extremely legible approach to the new CIVEL within the surrounding urban area and dockland with which it entertains the closest bonds. The King Kong project was inspired by the architects’ reading of this context and reworks the entirety of the existing building, with the addition of an extension to its eastern flank housing the technical facilities and emergency stairway. Additional areas of flooring were also created as and where necessary and the building situated to the east (outside the perimeter of the pumping station) was also integrated into the overall design. This would allow the renewal of public spaces in the district to be heralded with even greater clarity. The main entrance is positioned in the south-facing façade whose gable is stripped in the King Kong design, preserving its volume arrangement and emphasising the site’s new vocation. This solution had the additional advantage of allowing natural light to flood into the building. The material used was lacquered steel, in meaningful echo with the surrounding dockland environment and its iconic machinery, evoking technical sturdiness and a no-nonsense character. Similarly, the design includes a raised slab area exuding strength and power. The existing buildings, new constructions and diverse objects created would be raised upon this robust base projecting out over the ocean as a cantilever. This would be a place for tables, chairs and games for children in keeping with the theme of the estuary and port, as well as for installations and temporary exhibitions…. A windbreak serves to increase visitor comfort. The underlying principles of this design were functional efficiency and integration with the port environment, as a means of creating rich links with the past while ensuring the site’s future.
program
construction of a New Centre for Understanding and Promoting the Loire Estuary or CIVEL (centre d’interprétation et de valorisation de l’estuaire de la Loire).
project management
atelier King Kong, Ducks Scéno, Khephren Ingénierie, Alto Ingénierie, IdB Acoustique, Wonderfulight, VPEAS
client: Regional Council of Pays de la Loire
location: Saint-Nazaire (44)
surface area: 1 100 m²
Cost (VAT included): 5 740 000 €
date: competition 2012
images/photos: 2:pm, Ducks Scéno
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