France – Bjarke Ingels Group and FREAKS freearchitects‘ Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture – a.k.a. MÉCA – is Bordeaux’ new multidisciplinary hub bringing together three regional arts agencies while working as a new public space for the city. The €60 m and 18,000 sqm building comes in the shape of a giant loop wrapping around itself to create a hole in the building with a distorted arch on the top.
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The building’s concrete façade offers glimpses into stage towers, offices while sky-lit galleries overlook the River Garonne and the city. “By inviting the arts into the city and the city into the arts, MÉCA will provide opportunities for new hybrids of cultural and social life beyond the specific definitions of its constituent parts.” Explains Bjarke Ingels, founding partner and creative director of BIG.
MÉCA is also conceived as a public space: the pavement of the promenade becomes a ramp leading into a 1,100 sqm outdoor urban room at the core of MÉCA. Visitors can roam freely between the Quai de Paludate street to the river promenade. A 7m high MÉCA sign illuminates the space with white LED lights, like a modern chandelier at the scale of the urban room.
“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 space for the urban life of Bordeaux.” Comments BIG’s partner Jakob Sand.
A permanent bronze sculpture depicting a half-head of Hermes by French artist Benoît Maire intersects with the entrance on the riverside. “The piece that is missing is also the piece of the building that is missing. Missing pieces are maybe the most interesting parts for the building because this is where all the public events and activities can happen.” Says Bjarke Ingels.
The ground floor hosts the lobby and the restaurant Le CREM, furnished with red furniture and cork chairs designed by BIG in reference to the city’s wine heritage. A giant periscope allows visitors to see the activity in the outdoor urban room and viceversa.
On the same ground floor, the OARA’s 250-seat theatre features flexible seating configurations and acoustic systems optimized by an all-black checkerboard panel of concrete, wood and perforated metal.
Upstairs, filmgoers can view screenings at ALCA’s red-accented 80-seat cinema or visit the two production offices and project incubation area. FRAC occupies the upper floors with 7m high exhibition spaces, production studios for artists, storage facilities, a 90-seat auditorium and a café.
The 850 m2 public roof terrace serves as a flexible extension to the exhibition spaces, allowing future large-scale art installations and performances to be placed outdoors amid views of the city and the Basilica of St. Michael.
All images by NAME SURNAME – Courtesy of BIG.