An abandoned beret factory has been transformed into a stunning two-story multimedia center in Oloron Sainte Marie. Situated on the edge of the Pyrenees mountains, the Piémont Oloronais intercommunal multimedia center was built where the Aspe and Ossau rivers meet. Two competitions launched in 2005 and 2009 encouraged designers to revive what had become a dismal industrial wasteland, and Pascale Guédot and Michel Corajoud have achieved a magnificent, breezy wonder that draws visitors back to the river environment that was previously alienated by industry. Using the original stone foundation, skylights, and green terraces, Guédot and Corajoud have transformed a depressing sight into something that captures the sweet spot between calm and inspiration.
A major deindustrialization movement occurred in Oloron Sainte Marie during the late 19th century. Dominated by textile factories, the town had lost its sense of connectedness with the river confluence. The Piémont Oloronais changes that. Two walkways connect both river banks on either side of the center, and a large public portico reclaims a rippling, green environment that had been forsaken to industry.
Designed around the original stone foundation, the building is simple, although it is enhanced with light wood screens that permit plenty of natural light. Skylights provide additional daylight, creating a welcoming and airy environment that stands in stark contrast to the dreary monotony of the former factory. Shaped somewhat like a barge, this amazing multimedia center is a testament to the enormous benefits of thoughtful urban reclamation.