On the past 24th of November , at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, the panel of judges chaired by Jesús Aparicio and comprising Xaveer De Geyter (Belgium), Henrieta Moravčíková (Czech Republic + Slovakia), Marc Barani (France), Francesco Isidori (Italy), Paulo David (Portugal + Spain), and awards secretary Jesús Donaire, decided to give the BigMat ’17 International Architecture Award Grand Prize to the building ‘FRAC’ in Dunkirk, by French architects Lacaton & Vassal.
The project by the award-winning architects comprises the renovation of a large existing warehouse in the port of Dunkirk, as well as the construction of a new building standing beside it, equal in volume but with a different spatial quality and materials. In words of the architects, “the new building juxtaposes delicately without competing nor fading. The duplication is the attentive response to the identity of the hall. […] Under a light and bioclimatic envelope, a prefabricated and efficient structure allows for free, flexible and evolving platforms, with few constraints, fit to the needs of the program. The transparency of the skin allows to see, as a background vision, the opaque volumes of the artwork archive.”
According to the panel of judges chairman, Jesús Aparicio, “[…] the panel held a positive view of the creator’s decision not to restore, but rather duplicate and remodel an existing industrial facility, maintaining the volume and size of the existing building to therefore double the amount of available space.”
In words of Marc Barani (French member of the panel of judges): “This project is a perfect embodiment of the architects’ work: delivering more with less, blending rigour with poetry, multiplying the potential of a project. Their doctrine, combined with their incisive intelligence, has changed the traditional vision of the architect: it is better to expand a building than transform it if it then fails to live up to its new use. Proposing a solution so far removed from the original question raised by the award is a cheeky and cold-blooded rethinking of the role of the architect; what they have done is reframe the question through the project, rather than merely responding to the question, thus appreciably expanding the range of possibilities and the potential for good answers.”
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais by Lacaton & Vassal
BigMat ’17 International Architecture Award Grand Prize
Location: Dunkerque / France
Design years: competition 2009 / completion 2013 – 2015
Client: Communauté Urbaine de Dunkerque
Design team: Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal
with Florian de Pous chief project, Camille Gravellier construction supervision, Yuko Ohashi
Engineering: Secotrap (structure, mechanical systems), Cesma (metal structure), Vincent Pourtau (cost), Vulcanéo (fire security consultant), Gui Jourdan (acoustics), Cardonnel (thermal studies)
Program: artwork reserves, exhibition rooms, education
Size: 11 129 m2 net : 9 157 m2 new building / 1 972 m2 existing halle
Cost: 12 M€ net
The FRAC houses regionally assembled public collections of contemporary art. These collections are conserved, archived and presented to the public through on site exhibitions and by loans to both galleries and museums. The North region FRAC is located on the site of Dunkerque port in an old boat warehouse called Halle AP2. The halle AP2 is a singular and symbolic object. Its internal volume is immense, bright, impressive. Its potential for uses is exceptional.
To implant the FRAC, as a catalyst for the new area, and also to keep the halle in its entirety becomes the basic idea of our project. To achieve this concept, the project creates a double of the halle, of the same dimension, attached to the existing building, on the side which faces the sea, and which contains the program of the FRAC.
The new building juxtaposes delicately without competing nor fading. The duplication is the attentive response to the identity of the halle; Under a light and bioclimatic envelope, a prefabricated and efficient structure determines free, flexible and evolutionary platforms, with few constraints, fit to the needs of the program. The transparency of the skin allows to see the background vision of the opaque volume of the artworks reserves. The public footbridge (previously planned along the facade) which crosses the building becomes a covered street entering the halle and the internal facade of the FRAC.
The halle AP2 will remain a completely available space, which can work either with the FRAC, in extension of its activities, (exceptional temporary exhibitions, creation of large scale works, particular handlings) or independently to welcome public events (concert, fairs, shows, circus, sport) and which enriches the possibilities of the area. The functioning of each of the buildings is separated, or combined.
The architecture of the halle and its current quality make sufficient minimal, targeted and limited interventions. Thanks to the optimization of the project, the budget allows the realisation of the FRAC and the setting up of conditions and equipment for public use of the halle AP2.
The project so creates an ambitious public resource, of flexible capacity, which allows work at several scales from everyday exhibitions to large-scale artistic events, of regional but also european and international resonance, which consolidates the redevelopment of the port of Dunkerque.