Sociocultural & Sports Centre Pôle Simone Veil

K ARCHITECTURES

Architects: K ARCHITECTURES
Location: Havre, France
Area: 4,800.00 m2
Year: 2021
Photography: Sophie Oddo

The city of Le Havre immerses us in a moving atmosphere full of powerful stories.
The new cultural, associative and sporting facilities are being established as one of the centerpieces of the Danton district, which is in the process of being upgraded. It responds to the policy of the city of Le Havre and more closely to the expectations of the inhabitants who were consulted to compose its program.

Objectives

This program called for a strong and identifiable architecture, a unifying “cornerstone” open onto the public space for which it would act as an extension.

We also understood the desire for a generous and friendly architecture capable of welcoming those simple and unexpected moments, during which people come together in a spirit of brotherhood.

Design Intent

The project is part of a simple plan that completes the framework of a new public square intended to unite the neighborhood. Its façades are aligned with those of the neighboring streets to highlight the shape of this large collective space, which combines stone paving with intimate gardens.

The building draws on the archetypal morphology of the brick warehouses that populated the neighboring docks. This urban landscape, marked by double-pitched roofs, is undeniably linked to the heritage of Le Havre to the point that it serves as a familiar vector of well-being. The project reproduces a similar profile to preserve its almost melancholy symbol of a flourishing and peaceful era. The design also pays homage to the simple beauty of the large volumes by harnessing their efficiency for sports spaces.

The contemporary building, which gives off the image of an icon firmly anchored to the ground, is nevertheless recomposed to accommodate its new function.

First, the mass is lifted to let the public space slide into the heart of the action.

Second, its materiality responds to the heritage material of matte terracotta bricks with a vibrant skin made of brushed stainless steel sheets.

Finally, the new building responds to the massiveness of its model with a “transparent massiveness” capable of shedding light, both literally and figuratively, on the activities it houses.

The project is therefore given a dual appearance. It asserts an unchanging and powerful urban presence while surrounding itself with a sensitive landscape animated by the pictorial reflections of its environment in general and of the public garden in particular.

The interior architecture echoes the exterior envelope on a more domestic level. It takes up the theme of brightness by diffusing daylight through fluid spaces that seem dusted with a hazy white.

Wood structures this peaceful general atmosphere and generates a feeling of well-being, stemming from its biophilic action. The large sports hall benefits the most, with an entirely wooded suspended vault following a sophisticated geometry.

Based on this attention to the city, to the place, to its inhabitants, and to its uses, the architecture offered a sensitive interpretation which resulted in this unique building.