Text description provided by the architects. At the heart of the urban renewal of the Orgeval district in Reims, that is a worn-down sixties housing estate area with its problematics, the building opens up on a new large plaza and three different streets, while being largely contiguous to a housing and service block.
This building combines 2 distinct programmes.
First The Salle Municipale, or Event Space, clad in dark brick, is a large multipurpose event space. With a movable seating system it can host everything from larger gatherings to concerts, projections and theatre performances. The interior of the main space is in concrete, alternating smooth and textured surfaces. The wall elements are skewed, never parallel between each other, to break sound reflexes and for best acoustic performance.
The second main component, the community center or Maison the Quartier, on the other hand offers more day-to-day facilities for the areas inhabitants with sports, gym and boxing spaces, classrooms and workshops, daycare, but also spaces and activities for youth and elderly, as well as social services.
The building uses the differentiations in the shifts of the topography on the site in its organization. The building is symbolically open to the exterior with its upheaved built mass and transparent socle. A large ramp, that works as an extension of the plaza, leads to the main entrance hall.
The activities, workshops and sports area are lowered with large glazed surfaces to the street and the new square, giving them a distinct atelier character. Thus it offers them to the view of the inhabitants of the neighborhood to whom this building is devoted.
Spaces for children and daycare are raised and isolated from the plaza. They are organized around and open up to a large patio that serves as their outdoor playarea. On hot summer days, this patio can be covered and shaded with a mechanical textile covering.
The organization of the many disparate functions is organic, yet striated, differentiated. This translates into the façades as the building sets itself apart from the surrounding architecture giving an identity to the renewal of this area.
Two different brick types (dark and light) where used in the project two differentiate the two main programmes (Community center (light grey brick) and event space (dark brick).
The light grey brick is From Vandersanden , reference Quartis, and is what is called handmade brick (irregular surface with a creased texture, with a specific indentation in the bed surface) that is homogenous in color but irregular in shape. The dark brick is from Wienerberger , reference Hectic Black. The surface is smoother than a handmade brick, but with a special choked heat drying process and additives every brick has an individual heterogeneous surface color giving a distinct pattern to the building.
The brick is used as façade cladding (mounted on steel consoles that are fixed on the concrete, with the the mineral insulation in-between). We didn’t want the mortar joints nor the regulatory vertical expansion joints to be visible. The mortar was put in very thin layers, recessed by 3-4 cm. For the vertical expansion joints (mandatory every 60 sqm) : they were simply treated as open seams between the bricks running vertically every 10-15 meters.