Charleroi’s museum of photography brings new life to a former convent’s garden.

The team in L’Escaut Architecture, leaded by Olivier Bastin, converted the garden of a former Carmelite convent into the new wing of the Charleroi Museum of Photography. The architect’s challenge was to transform this beautiful introspective orchard into a public gateway for culture, sports and education.

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

 

Located on the inside of a city block and hidden to the view of the general public, the new wing of the Charleroi Museum of Photography attempts to bring new life to the orchard of a former Carmelite convent. This remarkable garden, full of protected trees, shares its wall with a neighbouring school and sporting facilities, making it an important spot as a new node in Charleroi, qualified to connect culture, education and sports. The surrounding constructions and the park itself create a new landscape to be explored by visitors and locals alike.

The building was designed by L’Escaut Architecture,a multidisciplinary team of professionals -one of whom is Olivier Bastin, former bMa of Brussels and forthcoming juror of BigMat International Award 2015.

 

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

 

The design of the building attempts to recreate the sense of promenade present in the former convent’s architecture. A series of in-between spaces, neither inside nor outside, seem to take the visitor’s walk inside the museum out into the open: the glass hall leads on to an enclosed winter garden, which is followed by an exterior garden protected by the cantilevered structure. An open skylight illuminates this very special grassy carpet. Constructively speaking, one of the highlights of the project is the use of solid wood panelling in the  cantilevered structure, thanks to the expertise of Yves Weinand, a professor in EPFL Lausanne.

 

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

 

The aluminium structure that binds the panelling together brings a richness of textures and colours throughout the day, reflecting the images of the trees and buildings surrounding the park. As a sort of photograph itself, the building aims to question our senses, revealing unnoticed  aspects of its architecture through the movement of light.

 

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

Charleroi Museum of Photography © Gilbert Fastenaekens

L’Escaut is a cooperative of architects in Brussels. Their skills comprise architecture, scenography and urbanism. With no predefined style nor method, they are testing new ways to approach project design with sensibility. With over ten active professionals, the team works in constant communication to develop projects from a relational, artistic, theoretical and experimental point of view.

Project data

Project type: Renovation (1996), interior (2003) and extension (2008)
Program: Exhibition area, cafeteria, library, auditorium, storage, offices
Location: Av. Paul Auster 11 – 6032 Charleroi
Duration: 1996 – 2008 (completed)
Client: Communauté Française de Belgique
Author: L’Escaut
Surfaces: 7511 sqm (gross) / 5066 sqm (net)
Budget: 3.600.000 €
Team: Eloisa Astudillo, Nele Stragier, Florence Hoffmann, Olivier Bastin, Claire Laborde, Françoise Lichtle

 Project images

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L'Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L’Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L'Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L’Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L'Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L’Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L'Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L’Escaut

 

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L'Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L’Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L'Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L’Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L'Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L’Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L'Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L’Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L'Escaut

Charleroi Museum of Photography © L’Escaut

Images via Archdaily
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