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MECA, BIG, FREAKS freearchitects, bordeaux, france, arts center, cultural center, urban living room, urban design

Team BIG+FREAKS freearchitects recently were awarded first prize by the Regional Council of Bordeaux to design the new 12 000 m2 cultural center on the riverfront of Bordeaux, merging three cultural institutions into one single building. The 3-in-1 cultural center will provide space for the visual and performing arts agencies FRAC, the ECLA and the OARA and will replace a series of buildings on the waterfront. Conceived as a large outdoor urban room the three agencies from an open-air space, which can be used for a performance stage, screening room, and a shared public space for residents to use. This large open cutout allows passage from the street to the riverfront and beyond and an rooftop deck provides views out over the city.

The three agencies occupy their own space and share the outdoor room, a restaurant and cafe. The exterior is clad in limestone to bring a sense of continuity with the new and old architecture, which also features the locally-sourced material. Natural daylight plays a huge roll within the building and permeates through all of the exhibition and office spaces. Most importantly, the building relies on its integration with the urban fabric and outdoors as both the backdrop for the arts and the centerpiece of the visitor’s experience.

“When a region or a city invests millions in a major new cultural institution – it often ends up benefiting only the informed few that already have an interest in the arts. Not only does the MÉCA spill its activities into the public realm and the urban room, but the public is also invited to walk around, through, above and below the new cultural gateway. By inviting the art into the city and the city into the arts, the MÉCA will provide opportunities for new hybrids of cultural and social life beyond the specific definitions of its constituent parts,” explained Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG. Team BIG+FREAKS freearchitecture is aided by dUCKS scéno, Khephren Ingénierie, VPEAS, ALTO Ingénierie, Vincent Hedont, PBNL, Mryk & Moriceau, and Ph.A.

Images ©BIG