Text description provided by the architects. Built in the 1950s by Bernard Zehrfuss, Jean Prouvé & Edgar Pillet, Mame printing house is a symbol of the 20th century industrial architecture, hence listed as a French Historic Monument. With help from chief architect of French Historic Monuments Pierre-Antoine Gatier, work was focused on the bare minimum. After a careful analysis of the existing, the reconversion of the old building increased the value of its undeniable qualities –since the office has opted for a sober and moderate approach.
The first task – almost archaeological – involved identifying and selecting the original elements of the building such as chassis, beam and paint. In order to achieve minimum daylight factor, all the pre-existing window bays have been reopened. This modification of the facade still maintains the building’s constructive approach. The existing chassis have been restored to their original state. The only moment of freedom for creation is to be found outside the building – the old ramparts of a former barracks were demolished to free enough space for a large sloped forecourt that reconnects the building with its surroundings.
This exceptional architecture gathers three specific heritage features – being the modular structure thought by Bernard Zehrfuss, the ‘colour enhancement’ work of painter Edgard Pillet, and the ironwork, stairs and sheds designed by Jean Prouvé – that are completely retained. The office tried to have the slightest impact on the primary structure of the existing building, the work undertaken aimed at staging the idea of reversibility in architecture.