Tank Architectes inaugurated last September a refurbishment and expansion project in a former police station in Madeleine, France, with the purpose of connecting the new public space with the urban context. In order to provide a true integration, the public facility has been designed as an extension of the public square.
The french studio was responsible for repurposing the 1930s building as part of the development of a new public space at the centre of La Madeleine, a town on the outskirts of Lille. The original building faces the central market square and now provides a cultural hub for the local community. The first step in the police station’s renovation was to make it more accessible to the public by lowering the entrance and the sills of the existing windows to street level. New glazed openings provide views out from the formerly closed gable ends, while the old stonework was freshened up with a coat of white paint.
The new space opposite the existing station has become a meditheque, a public library and visitor center characterized by a poligonalized roof formed by triangular wooden modules controlling indirect light on the bookshelves below. Skylights consist on truncated pyramidal sections that fill the reading room with soft and diffused north light, like in a factory. The roof is covered externally in stainless steel panels that create a glimmering surface visible from surrounding buildings, while the underside is clad in perforated plywood to improve acoustics inside the reading room.
A glass wall wraps the entire construction to protect thermal and acoustically the interior space, but at the same time it allows readers of all ages views of the gardens surrounding the structure, making them feel as if they were in an outer space, surrounded by colorful vegetation. The core modules include structures that frame smaller triangular skylights and act as polygonal domes that provide plenty of natural light inside. Each unit is manufactured using laminated beams and pine beams. The coating is made of melamine pannels which are fixed with metal clips.
The library opens to the garden and is involved in connecting the districts with the center, creating an impotant stream of visitors and creative energies. The reading room’s sense of openness is underlined by the space between the ceiling and the predominantly low furniture, which allows views across the entire space and towards the town outside.
The ground floor of the development hosts a small auditorium, a cafe and a resting area that can accommodate all types of community events. The central atrium allows pedestrian circulation in to the building, connecting the different parts and the outside.
Olivier Camus y Lydéric Veauvy. Graduate with Honors by the Superior Institute of Architecture (ISA) St Luc in Tournai, Bélgica (1998 y 1999). After seven years of experience, they founded Tank Architectes in 2005. They won the European prize 40 under 40 2011, given by the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies et The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design. Tank was also awarded with the trophy of the 3ª Les Albums des jeunes architectes et des paysagistes (NAJA) in 2006. They have several publications on their backs, and have been invited to several conferences and exhibitions in places like the National School of Architecture of Grenoble (ENSAG).