Text description provided by the architects. The programme of this competition, won in 2008 by Hamonic + Masson & Associés architects, was to reconstruct the Marne departmental archives annexe, situated in the French city of Reims. The new construction is located opposite the old building, and the project was completed and delivered by Hamonic + Masson & Associés in 2014. The aim was to turn the building in to a modern history research hub and a regional information centre, whilst expanding the linear archival storage space from 7km to 18km.
Considering the size and the impact on the site, we wanted this project for the Reims archives to be read in several ways, to tell different tales depending on distance or nearness to the building, and to allow the discovery of many different elements and feelings as one walks through.
Located on a gentle slope, the building stands in such a way that does not spoil or overload the setting. It’s a line that we see from the background. Visitors take a path that gradually gives way to the access ramp. The reception area is an intermediary space, before opening onto the inner garden. The entrance demonstrates the building’s functional organisation that we see through the transparent patio.
The effect of time will reveal the charm of the natural, raw materials (glass, metal and golden-brown varnished concrete.) With their richness, textures and vibrations, these industrial materials gain in poetry. It is an aesthetic refinement, which, if applied with care, gives the building consistency and identity.