Le Fresnoy Art Center
Le Fresnoy (the National Studio for Contemporary Arts) is a center for crossover artists, such as a video artist who is also a musician or a musician who is a painter. The site holds buildings from a 1920s leisure complex that included cinema, ballroom dancing, skating, and horseback riding. Although the existing structures could have been demolished to make way for new construction, they contained extraordinary spaces whose large dimensions exceeded what the limited project budget could supply. The aim was to develop a new model of a center through combinations of old and new, development and production, artistic practice and public exhibition. more
The project suspends a large, ultra-technological roof, pierced by cloud-like glass openings and containing all necessary ductwork for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, over many of the existing 1920s structures. The format of the project is a succession of boxes inside a box. First, a new, resolutely contemporary facade encloses the ensemble of buildings in a rectangular box. The north side of the box is made out of corrugated steel, while the curtain wall facades of the southern sector give a transparent image to the entrance and main building facade. The other sides remain open, providing views of the old and new within and of the technical ductwork suspended under the new roof and over the old ones. The spaces between the two roofs contain places for installations and film projections located along a dramatic sequence of walkways.
Within the container-box are the boxes of the existing Fresnoy facilities, supplemented by newly-designed ones, including exhibition spaces, sound studios and assorted production facilities, a library, a cinema, a restaurant, and apartments for faculty and students—all of them protected from inclement weather by the sheltering and all-encompassing umbrella of the new roof.
The roof acts as the project's common denominator. In keeping with the Surrealist image of the meeting of the umbrella and the sewing machine on the dissecting table, the scheme of the project aims to accelerate chance events by combining diverse elements, juxtaposing the great roof, the school and research laboratory, and the old Fresnoy, a place of spectacle. The whole is precise and rational in its concept, and varied and poetic in the resulting spatial richness. back
Competition 1st prize, 1991
110,000 sq. feet
French Ministry of Culture and Region Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Robert Cesar, Peter Mauss/Esto, Christian Richters
Lead Designer: Bernard Tschumi. Key Personnel: François Gillet, Mark Haukos, Tom Kowalski, Robert Young, Jim Sullivan, Yannis Aesopos, Douglas Gauthier, Eric Liftin, Robert Moric, Sheri Olsen, Jordan Parnass, Tsuto Sakamoto, Henning Ehrhardt, Jean-François Erhel, Véronique Descharrières, Vincent Tehvenon, Paul H. Huchard, Louis Choulet back