Built in the 18th century, the Chateau Buchillot at Boulogne-Billancourt consists of a main building with two wings opening onto a main courtyard. It is a historic monument, located in Edmond-de-Rothschild Park.
The work of Paul Belmondo is not very well-known, taking this into consideration architects Thomas Chartier and Karine Corbasson set out to develop a design that created a deep interaction between the medium and the spectator, suggesting ways of not just seeing, but also living the work.
The architects’ design provides two types of ambiance: displaying the works in a serene white setting and moving around within the walls. The architecture incorporates the works through niches, windows, upthrust floors and soaring ceilings, elements that help to set the scene by framing the works and providing multiple points of view and opportunities for discovery.
Areas were created to incorporate the idea of modulability: they can be used as storerooms or a stage. Their use can vary over time, the systems are simple and can be dismantled or adapted as required. Bringing these two spatial typologies into proximity creates a richness, a flexibility of usage. Links are created without disrupting a neutral, more classic vision of the work, but the system does facilitate an understanding of Belmondo’s work.
These two spaces are linked by a single path, almost a guideline. The very structure of the building contributes to this concept: it has two faces, overlooking both the courtyard and the garden, and a number of different levels depending on the orientation. Staircases and lifts have been included to enhance the flow of movement, and always enrich the setting. In the same way, service areas (reception, cloakrooms etc.) have been designed to be part of the staging. The architects believed it was important to make the practical aspects of the building resonate with the discovery of the works. The whole building, its entire architecture, serves the works.
The external layout is designed to be consistent with the interior. A single, bronze-like material expresses the construction and interior layout to the exterior. It is used for a number of purposes: in pedestals for the works, seats for the public and planters for vegetation.
The forecourt retains its original octagonal form: a fourth volume is attached symetrically to those already existing, serving as a screen in which one of the works is displayed. It is in fact a green wall incorporating a bronze alcove in which nestles a carefully lit sculpture. Behind it is a parking area for bicycles.
The main courtyard contains giant pedestals similar to those on which the works are displayed inside. These pedestals are orientated along the imaginary axes of the existing building creating a false perspective. The pedestals serve a number of purposes such as air vents and seats for the public. The lighting is focused more on the works than the facades of the building.
The garden receives similar treatment: a single material is used to create the setting for a sculpture garden. Belmondo’s works are accompanied by large-scale pedestals that help to re-establish the framework of the setting. The northern boundary has a motorway wall, therefore a plinth incorporating sound diffusers is set widthways across the space, screening the traffic noise and providing a visual background for one of the works. In the main axis of the building a bronze sculpture is set in a bronze alcove in line with series of bamboos that mask the neighbouring buildings. This “zen garden” faces the “romantic garden”, and has been created from piles of stones found on the site, from which sculptures suddenly loom up.
Sustainability featured in the building includes: using a heat pump for the heating/climate control system, use of recyclable materials, wooden structure prefabricated in the workshop, optimization of offcuts, easily dismantlable structure, improved acoustics (target 7): all room surfaces are insulated, provision for unforeseen climatic conditions (part of the plan to prevent natural flooding) with specific protection for the basement in the event of a substantial rise in water level, optimal use of natural light, retention of existing fittings on Levels 1 and 2, formaldehyde-free paint, low-consumption lighting (LED), tree planting of over 300 bamboos.