Maison de la Culture de la Province de Namur – Le Delta

This cultural centre sits in the centre of Namur, on the north bank of the Sambre River, facing the historic centre of the town known as “Le Grognon”.

The building

Designed by Victor Bourgeois and built at the start of the 1960s, the building required renovation and extension to meet the current requirements of local people and to accommodate the redevelopment of the rue des Bouchers and the banks of the Sambre River.

The building used to consist of a 400-seater theatre at one end of a rectangular box-shaped space on four levels with a south-facing curtain wall (looking over the Sambre River) built up against a curved rectangular box-shaped space on five levels, known as the “croissant”, which has an east-facing curtain wall and a south-facing end wall which has no openings.

The project shall preserve the existing construction (with the exception of the small buildings annexed to the back- stage area and at the site’s north-west corner).

One intermediate mezzanine was added into the foyer of the 450-seater main theatre, as well as an additional level on top of the “croissant” (level 4), with extensions to accommodate the functionality required.

These additions shall include, to the east of the building in front of the “croissant”, the “prow cylinder” compris- ing the reception porch, and significant extensions to the north-east of the building.

Natural ventilation and acoustics

Although the reliance on natural ventilation and lighting is perfectly possible in a favourable urban environment, the environmental conditions within towns (odours, noise, dust, dirt on floors and walls, overheating, shading) has gradually and very visibly deteriorated. Buildings have in- creasingly been constructed so to protect them from this hostile environment, becoming “boxes” sealed off from these physical attacks and, as a result, closed off from their surroundings.

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The centre of Namur, which is well ventilated due to its topography and rivers, is fortunate in that it does not suf- fer from these disadvantages. It is thus possible to return to more sensible practices, and to open up the building to its environment.
Since they are sheltered from sources of noise, the main 450-seaters theatre rooflights, necessary for both smoke exhaust and natural daylight, can also be used for natural ventilation, along with opening windows.

Natural lighting

Louvres fitted vertically on east, and horizontal blinds on other orientations, are used to adjust the degree of natu- ral illumination through the facades, and to provide shad- ing. Light wells shall provide natural illumination for the stages in the three theatres.

Performance levels

Some of the key considerations in this study have been: respect for the cultural heritage, the integration of exist- ing artworks, fire safety, problem-free disabled access (Access-i certification), and respect for the environment (Breeam certification in progress).

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