The building for the Conservatory of Music, Drama and Dance in the new town of Montigny-le-Bretonneux sits on a triangular site. It offers distant views of the famous apartment block Les Arcades du Lac built by Ricardo Bofill in 1985.
The compact building seems to turn toward the south to enjoy a better, right-angled view of the street. The structure seems to come apart to showcase the true size of its dance studio, which pivots to run parallel to the road. Different forms collide, reflecting the site’s geometry. These forms offer views of the town and clear sightlines into the interior.
The building’s envelope features transparent panes of reflective glazing and vertically striped surfaces that capture light. Their various textures appear side by side, which blurs the real scale of the building and endows the structure with an aura of strangeness and a wealth of interpretations. The enigmatic outline is suggestive of a cultural facility.
The building has four levels. It includes drama rooms, a large black-box theater, music rooms of different sizes, a recording studio, three dance studios with changing rooms, and an underground parking area. The spaces are laid out along an uneven axis that offers spacious areas for socializing while looking out at the town or toward the building’s main sections.
When you step into the entrance hall, you find yourself looking down at two tall basement spaces: the large theater and the double-height percussion room that offers views of the instruments below.
The hallways are characterized by contrasts: walls of exposed concrete are juxtaposed with shiny floors and ceilings. The spaces are dotted with large solid timber additions on all levels, giving the areas for gathering a welcoming atmosphere.
The cross-section helps understand the strong connection that is created between all these spaces. Three large skylights punctuate the ceiling, which becomes distorted to let in natural light from all sides. A monumental staircase rises through this atrium, unfolding diagonally and stretching up towards the light and the dance studios. The large panes of glass are coated in dichroic film. The colors change in accordance with the viewer’s position and the sun’s angle. The spaces are tied together by this giant kaleidoscope diffusing ever-changing colors.