Big Designs a Méca to Culture in Bordeaux, France

La nueva Maison de l'Économie et Créative de la Cultura en Aquitaine, situada a orillas del histórico río de la ciudad de Meca, albergará tres agencias regionales de artes visuales y escénicas, la FRAC, la CEPAL y la OARA. El Consejo Regional de Burdeos seleccionó la propuesta de BIG para este nuevo centro de arte contemporáneo, la institución de las artes escénicas y el centro de literatura y cine en torno a un espacio público abierto a la ciudad de Burdeos y el río Garona. El edificio está concebido como una única cinta que integra el espacio público y las instituciones culturales. El pavimento del paseo se levanta para formar el techo de los pasillos principales y asciende verticalmente a lo largo de la torre del escenario de la OARA, cruza el paseo marítimo a través de puentes con el cielo iluminado de la galería FRAC y vuelve verticalmente al suelo en los archivos de la CEPAL con el fin de reunirse con el paseo marítimo.

The new Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine, MÉCA, located on the historical riverfront of Bordeaux will house three regional visual and performing arts agencies FRAC, the ECLA and the OARA in one single institution. The Regional Council of Bordeaux selected the winning team among proposals from SANAA, the Toulouse-based firm W-Architectures and Bordeaux-based FLINT.

BIG’s proposal arranges the new center for contemporary art, the performing arts institution and the center for literature and movies around a public space open towards the city of Bordeaux and the Garonne River. The building is conceived as a single loop of public space and cultural institutions as the pavement of the promenade rises to form the roof of the main lobbies, ascends vertically along the stage tower of OARA, bridges across the promenade with the sky lit galleries of the FRAC and returns vertically to the ground at the archives of the ECLA in order to reunite with the waterfront promenade.

When a region or a city invests millions in a major new cultural institution – it often ends up benefiting only the informed few that already have an interest in the arts. Not only does the MÉCA spill its activities into the public realm and the urban room, but the public is also invited to walk around, through, above and below the new cultural gateway. By inviting the art into the city and the city into the arts, the MÉCA will provide opportunities for new hybrids of cultural and social life beyond the specific definitions of its constituent parts.” Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.

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The urban room allows everyday life of Bordeaux to flow through its generous frame along the promenade, injecting the art into the city and the city life into the building. The multiple ramps and stairs of the building create an institution that is publicly accessible and welcoming on the inside as well as the outside. The urban room and the informal seating of the stairs will make the MÉCA a lively place and a natural extension of the life along the Quai de Paludate street and the new promenade. During festivals or other special occasions in the city, the outside of the MÉCA can be transformed into a stage for outdoor concerts, theatrical spectacles or art installations.

The urban room is at once a frame for the artwork, a stage for the performances, a screening room for the media collections and most perhaps most importantly an open room for the urban life of Bordeaux to invade and engage with the arts.”, Andreas Klok Pedersen, Partner-in-Charge, BIG. Tailored to accommodate the proportions of the performance spaces, the backstage requirements, the archives and the art galleries, the building is tailored to the needs and desires of its individual tenants while fused to form a single urban frame. The building and promenade is clad in the limestone which constitutes the majority of Bordeaux’s architecture. As if carved from the same material as the city itself – the stone is promenade and façade, stair and terrace, roof and ceiling all together.

The three regional entities composing the program are idiomatic to the French public way of supporting and promoting culture all over the territory. Working on the MÉCA building in Bordeaux is a great occasion to cross views and balance between international references and local issues.” Guillaume Aubry, Cyril Gauthier & Yves Pasquet, Founding Partners, FREAKS freearchitects

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About BIG
BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group is a leading international partnership of architects, designers, builders and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. The office is currently involved in a large number of projects throughout Europe, North America and Asia. BIG’s architecture emerges out of a careful analysis of how contemporary life constantly evolves and changes, not least due to the influence of multicultural ex­change, global economic flows and communication technologies that together require new ways of architectural and urban organiza­tion. BIG is led by partners – Bjarke Ingels, Andreas Klok Pedersen, Finn Nørkjær, David Zahle, Jakob Lange, Thomas Christoffersen and Managing Partners, Sheela Maini Søgaard and Kai-Uwe Bergmann – with offices in Copenhagen and New York. In all our actions we try to move the focus from the little details to the BIG picture.

FREAKS freearchitects is a Paris-based architecture firm lead by three architects favouring prospection, research and experimentation through projects and building process practices from small scale art installations to large scale architecture competitions. Although nowadays their built projects are mostly located in France, FREAKS’s partners have lived and experienced a wide range of abroad working contexts such as San Francisco, Tokyo, Beijing, Berlin, Mumbai, Singapore, Istanbul… Those sometimes chaotic urban surroundings drove them to integrate to their practice a rich and confident vocabulary of urban scenarios and architectural aesthetics. FREAKS freearchitects has been awarded the AJAP price from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication in 2010.

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