Architects: Malcotti Roussey Architectes
Location: Salins-les-Bains, France
Structure Engineering: Cetel
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Nicolas Waltefaugle
This project is located in the space that was left free in the ancient saline, a place that was partially destroyed. It is situated in Salins-les-Bains near the museum, which is being restored (see the museum fact sheet).
In March 2007, a fire took place in the former and major building of the saline called « pardessus ». It included a restaurant, an auditorium and a gambling room. This event has been rapidly perceived as an opportunity to give a better unity to the buildings of the ancient saline, and to increase the coherence of the patrimonial and museum offers.
In a legitimate concern not to isolate an attractive activity, important for the development of the city, the town council wished to maintain it in the city centre.
As we started to think about a planning of the ancient saline and of its site, the project of the new auditorium and gambling room has been entrusted to our office.
The programme includes the construction of a restaurant room and an auditorium with a seating capacity of 200 patrons, a gambling room of 420 m2, and a range of services available and related to this activity.
The urban stake of the project was double:
- The consideration of the planning was led as part of the architecture competition of the museum. The basis of the reflexion was caused by the fact that emptiness took precedence over what had been built in this site.
How to absorb a building of a considerable size (1200 m2 useful) in this space.
- How to combine two opposing programmes, on the one hand a museum, and on the other hand a casino, both situated within a single place.
Consequently, how to unite two opposite architectural attitudes: the intervention in the museum has to be necessarily unnoticeable, while the intervention in the auditorium has to be noticed.
The unification with the patrimonial site: the setting up of the new building takes up the lines of the constructions that were demolished during the Second World War and keeps its main characteristics, strut along the river, long longitudinal crosswall, and covered gallery.
At the back of the new building, the wall, which followed the river, and the other wall situated on the north boundary will be restored or reconstructed in order to give again a better clearness to the ancient limits of the saline.
The conception of the architectural project: a double outer shell allows combining the two contradictory constraints of the project. The choice of a similar treatment for the exterior skin in the two sites, made of rusty steel enables to find again the atmosphere of the industrial site and to keep a contemporary and singular architectural style. Into the background, the second front wall is richer and more luxurious, adapted to the symbolism of the building’s programme.
The space between those two outer shells thus brings a depth to the building, and the public ambulatory which is formed links the building to the life of the city.
This ambulatory will be extended later in the direction of the town hall at the north, and in the direction of the museum at the south.
We are still thinking about the current urban project.
Finally, the level of the ground floor has been raised 31 inches approximately in order to respect the instructions in case of a flood, and also to create a sort of levitation effect appropriate to provide a clear reading of this contemporary contribution to this age-old area.
Principle of building
The parts from the socle to the paving of the ground floor are made of concrete, resting on two posts. Therefore, archaeological traces of former buildings are not affected by the project, the posts being set back from the substructures localised after archaeological research.
At the top, the assemblage of the structure is made of components that are prefabricated in a factory in order to satisfy deadline requirements (the construction process lasting a year): the structure is mainly metallic, with a mixture of studwork, wood frame, curtain wall.
The façades giving onto the street are made of steel that becomes patinated with age, the rear part being covered with wood.