Text description provided by the architects. Throughout the various periods of its urban development, Nancy’s vision always preceded its architectural commissions. The city suburbs were ini- tially attributed to the original castle town, and in the eighteenth century, a message of unity was asserted at the annexation of Lorraine to the Kingdom of France. And this was an opportunity to highlight the ducal power around an exceptional architecture (classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site). At the beginning of the twentieth century, the architecture in Nancy suc- cessfully integrated the richness of the École de Nancy in its constructions, just as it was able to promote new ideas on building and construction in the footsteps of the architect and designer Jean Prouvé, who was also mayor of Nancy after the Liberation. This identity and legacy continues today with the reconquest of the riverbanks of the Meurthe: the city of the twenty-first century.
This project is unusual, not only because it is located five hundred metres away from the world famous Place Stanislas. It reflects an ambition that - had it not been integrated into its DNA from the outset - would have resulted in the creation of a banal building without meaning or history. The heaped impertinence of Quay Ouest reveals firstly the demands of the mayor of the time, André Rossinot, now President of the Greater Nancy Agglomeration. Secondly, the overlapping interests of a company, Pertuy Construction, eager to show its commitment to urban inclination, which includes the ethical desire to (re)combine architectural creativity with the sustainability of a modern building with low energy consumption. In other words, Quai Ouest represents the synthesis of political energy with the commitment of a private developer.
Quai Ouest is remarkable for its stainless steel outer shell and its 650 oblong windows like eyes watching the city. This 10,000 square meter building - on an island that has 28 000 - includes offices - including the Pertuy headquarters, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction - a residential hotel and shops. Located on the outskirts of Nancy, this former industrial wasteland of the twentieth century and of the Canal is at the very confluence of Charles III’s city of Nancy and the new districts of the Meurthe riverbanks : 300 hectares contained within city-scale infrastructural boundaries in the process of urbanization that extend the reaches of the city by offering a new contemporary centrality.
Quai Ouest was previously the site of a gasworks. The site was sanitized, receiving an award by ADEME for its exemplary nature. Right on the edge of the banks of the Canal, it is at the intersection of the old city and the new city marked by Alexander Chemetoff’s Water Gardens and the alignment of modern buildings. It is also located at the culmination of the historic commercial centre of Nancy drawn by the St Jean and St Georges streets now crossed by the tramway.
Quay West dares to offer a contemporary articulation of diversity based on a delicate balance and coordinated architectural accordance and discordance.Like most of the principle buildings of old Nancy, the materials there are light in colour, they reflect and complement without literal imitation. The volumetrics respond and challenge, echoing the transversal altimetry.
Because of the disorganisation of the spaces along the Canal, and this on a significant scale regarding the existing neighbouring heritage, Quai Ouest aligns itself with Nancy’s historical past and reinforces the naval front contributing to recomposing an urban clarity. The volume of the building researching unity also resonates with those sectors that marked Nancy’s public spaces since the eighteenth century such as the Opera or the L’Hôtel de la Reine close to City Hall and the Place Stanislas.
As the fusion operates horizontally between functions, the scale sought for this street angle does not need to rise above the height of adjacent buildings of the surrounding neighbourhood. The single volume can remain comfortably within the maximum prospects and heights imposed. This controlled height facilitates the internal articulation of offices altimetry (held at R + 5) which includes the headquarters and residence of Pertuy Construction (maintained at R + 4) and functions with their optimum floor height ( 3.35m for offices and 2,74m for apartment hotels). This measure also creates a balance with residential buildings (in progress) and existing neighbouring offices.
Ultimately, the single volume rises or compresses itself to induce spatial dynamics in resonance with the site. The outer envelope itself accompanies this unique movement to reveal shop windows, office reception areas and hotel receptions. As for the Opera and the L’Hôtel de la Reine, the diversity melds into the same vibration as the full openings.