by Jerry ElengicalJan 21, 2022
Inspired by the archetypal morphologies of brick warehouses of nearby docks, Paris-based firm K architectures Sigwalt Herman has developed a new sports and cultural facility in the Danton district of Le Havre, France. The complex, dubbed 'Pôle Simone Veil', was completed in 2021 and intended to act as the final touch to the framework of a new public square in the neighbourhood, in the role of a unifying cornerstone. Developed with the aid of some public participation, as part of the city council’s plan to upgrade the Danton district, the project is envisioned as a centrepiece in the locality's urban environment, relying on a strong visual statement and a sense of monumentality to underline the nature of the vast collective space it borders.
Crenellated, double pitched roofs are a staple feature within the project’s urban milieu, and the design team at K architectures captured this aesthetic element to shape an architecture that would reflect the contextual heritage. In an attempt to transfer the spatial efficiency and visual identity of these warehouses into the typology of sports architecture, and thereby to pay a tribute to their revered status within the city, the designers settled upon a simple, rectangular plan form, crowned by an irregular series of gabled roofs that compose the façade design and reference the building’s spiritual origin.
Extensive glazing lines the lowest section of the building’s front edifice, forging a visual link between Rue Michelet, the public space beyond, and the rooms inside the complex. K architectures relays in an official release, “A contemporary building, shaped in the image of an icon firmly anchored in its ground, is nevertheless being recomposed to accommodate its new function, its mass is lifted as if by feat to let the public space slide into the heart of the action." Above this, a system of brushed stainless steel sheets evokes the terracotta brick masonry of the warehouses in its vicinity. The assembly is impermeable, bright, and reflective in its lower sections, but grows steadily darker and less uniform in its application - as if fading away to reveal the curtain walls enveloping interior spaces. An intriguing gradient from light to dark, and opacity to transparency is produced through this configuration - which almost dematerialises at its apex.
Accessible from a forecourt, the main entrance flows into a vast multifunctional hall that serves as a common point of convergence for users flocking to the reception, sports facilities, and spectator stands. During competitions or events, the hall may even be segregated from the rest of the ground floor. Beyond this, the space flows into a reception and orientation area, next to an artificial climbing wall linked to the upper level. The former acts as a nexus for various other program areas, including the reading spaces, digital workshop, creative workshop, activity rooms, and kitchen workshop on the ground floor. Designated as a large open space by the French architecture firm, the reception functions as a social link within the layout, employing furniture to delineate the different sub-functional areas along its extent.
On the other hand, the climbing wall is a key element of the program, visible from both the front hall as well as gardens located to the east of the structure. Rising to a height of almost six metres, the structure is a vibrant mix of textures and bright orange hues, guaranteed to capture the attention of all passers-by. The wall folds gradually over its span to form a semi-open vault over the 1800 sqm multi-sport platform on the first floor.
Reserved almost exclusively for clubs, the multi-sport arena rests beneath a space frame vault clad in timber slats that form a tessellated pattern along the jagged surfaces of the ceiling. Extensive glazed sections occupy two of the space’s walls, ensuring an abundance of natural light within the venue, which can seat 500 people in its fixed grandstands. This capacity can be further extended with the assistance of mobile grandstands which are composed of 13 modules. As one of the main program areas within the complex, the venue is accessed by means of two parallel staircases in the ground floor hall. The intrusion of the climbing structure into the space also creates another visual relationship between the venue and the main hall below.
Besides this, Pôle Simone Veil is also home to a gymnasium, library, and meeting spaces, as part of its larger functional programming. The interior design takes cues from the building’s exterior, gently diffusing light through various functional areas. The furnishings within spaces include pieces from Kartell, Moroso, Hay, and MDF Italia, to name a few. Wood is a unifying element throughout the interiors which induce an earthy clarity to the scheme. By channelling elements of local history through a monumental design language that is also infused with contemporary subtlety, K architectures has employed the medium of architecture to create a sensitive interpretation of the neighbourhood's spirit and needs.
Name: Pôle Simone Veil Multifunctional and Sports Center
Location: Le Havre, France
Client: City Of Havre - Normandy Region - Seine Maritime Department - National Center For The Development Of Sport
Year of Completion: 2021
Architect: K architectures Sigwalt Herman
Project Architect: Camille Saint-Paul
Structural Engineer: AIA LIFE DESIGNERS
Services Engineer: AIA LIFE DESIGNERS
Building Economist: AIA LIFE DESIGNERS
Acoustical Consultant: ITAC
False ceiling Wood Battens Omnisport Platform: CETEC
Wood and Aluminum Curtain Walls: Etablissements Marchand
Stainless Steel Façade: PROUIN
Sports Equipment: NOUANSPORT
Custom Carpentry: Roches arrangement