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FRAC Centre – Les Turbulences: Architectural and Art regional found

The Regional Fund for Contemporary Art in the Centre region (FRAC Centre) opened its doors in Orleans, France in September, with a striking public reception piece designed by progressive architects Jakob + MacFarlane. The Turbulences, the public entrance area, features a cafeteria, book shop and auditorium.

FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-02-Roland-Halbe-759x427 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

  • The prefabricated tubular structure is covered in an anodised aluminium casing and will be programmed with lighting displays. With a dynamic and stunning architecture, enveloped in a skin of light continuously interacting with its urban environment, turbulences has become a new art and cultural centre for young creators.
  • The name “ turbulences” comes from the prefabricated tubular structure of the building, covered by an anodised aluminium casing in which the artists of Electronic shadow, naziha Mestaoui and Yacine Ait Kaci, created an interactive veil of light.
FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-04-Roland-Halbe-749x1000 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

Jakob + MacFarlane has brought to the fore an emerging dynamic form based on parametric deformation and the extrusion of the grids of the existing buildings. As a strong architectural signal interacting with its context, this fluid, hybrid structure develops in the form of three glass and metal objects in the inner courtyard. the tubular metal structure, reinforced by a secondary one supporting the exterior covering panels (aluminium panels, either solid or perforated) and the interior panels (made of wood), is formed by unusual and unique elements. the lower parts of the tur bulences are clad with prefabricated concrete panels, which provide the continuity of the building with the courtyard. the apparent disjunction between the two architectural orders is offset by the impression of emergence given by the turbulences.

FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-08-Roland-Halbe-749x1000 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

The Story:

FRAC Centre, located in a former military facility in Orléans, needed renovation in order to develop new facilities, which the FRAC Centre’s old premises could not offer. the competition for this project, held by the Région Centre, acting as client, with the participation of Europe (FEDER), the city of Orléans and the French government, required the rehabilitation of 3300m² of the existing building into a museum. Architect Jakob + MacFarlane has opted for a strong physical presence with the introduction of an urban signal. the n ew facility includes a permanent collection, temporary exhibitions, a public reception area, a documentation centre, an educational workshop and other facilities. the presence of the Electronic shadow artists within the design team, as requested by the contracting authority, gave a new dimension to the building, making it possible to associate artists with the design phases of the architectural project.

FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-16-Roland-Halbe-759x427 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

  • The FRAC Centre also feature public viewing galleries – both permanent and temporary – as well as a pedagogical workshop, a documentation centre and an outside garden space available to visitors. The new centre brings together contemporary art and experimental architecture, including 15,000 architectural drawings, 800 models and 600 works by artists, which are accessible to both the public and researchers.
FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-17-Roland-Halbe-749x1000 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

The site of the new Frac Centre:

Designed in the 18th century as a detention center, the original buidling was converted back into a hospice before undergoing important developments with a view to establishing a military suppy depot in 1837. Disused in the 1980s, between 1999 and 2006 the venue hosted the international ArchiLab event, devoted to research architecture. It was then chosen, in the 2006 competition, to house the new FRAV Centre, to provide the best possible response to the tasks and vocation of a Regional fund for Contemporary Art.

The challenfe of the competition was the museographical renovation and refurbishement of that old army depot, with its overall area of 3300 sq. m., (35 000 sq. ft.), with the introduction of an « urban signal ».

FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-19-Roland-Halbe-749x1000 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

New Features:

  • The FRAC Centre will have new features within its 3,000 m : a permanent gallery (370 m ) displaying the collection’s flagship works; temporary exhibition rooms approximately 1000 m 2 ; a pedagogical workshop (180 m ); a documentation centre; a garden designed by ruedurepos (400 m2).
  • The Turbulences (370 m2), a public reception area, comprises a 2 cafeteria, a bookshop and an auditorium. Furthermore the FRAC Centre benefits from outsourced art work reserves (1,500 m).
  • The FRAC Centre, a research laboratory for architecture, will provide a valuable tool for developing a transdisciplinary cultural programme centred on relationships between art, architecture and design.
FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-20-Roland-Halbe-759x568 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

Jakob + Macfarlane Architects:

The architectural idea is to take the entire site, which determines the surface of intervention. We identified two predominate grids emanating from the historic context of the site. The meeting and the convergence of these two geometries materialises in a deformation, a zone of turbulence, the future presence of the FRAC Centre.

The inner court is treated like a public space, linking all the buildings and carrying the program of the FRAC. Our intention is to create not only a landscape but a topographic surface. This surface follows the interferences of the two building grids and accommodates the natural slopes the site towards the entries of the different programs of exhibition spaces.

The volumes created by the meeting of these geometries are extruded vertically and stretched over the court and toward the city.They are organised into three parts and conceived to be simple and facetted in form, a language derived from the fusion of the grids of the site.

FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-28-Roland-Halbe-759x427 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

These “turbulent” extrusions each contain an element of the program: the first and tallest a temporary exhibition gallery with its accompanying scenographic spaces, the smallest an audiovisual gallery, and the third the welcome lobby, sales space, and a convivial social space which extends out into the court. This central space is an intersection, a place of meeting and exchange, material and immaterial. This ambulatory space leads the public to the temporary and permanent exhibition spaces and research areas.

The exterior and interior skins of the intervention are fine metallic and textile meshes which convey a perpetually modifying flow of information. The idea is to create a building which continually describes the process of creation, disappearing behind the lines which were drawn only to reappear in volume, a three dimensional image, the materialisation of architecture. Volume, light and image fuse together to create a dynamic form of architecture of information.

These digital surfaces are addressed to the city and, as such, the building surface transcribes flows of information into light images through an intervention of Electronic Shadow. These flows of information can be the weather, connections to their internet site or any capturable flow of real time information.

FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-29-Roland-Halbe-749x1000 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

The light surface of the building is simultaneously an architectural and artistic intervention, an urban signal, and signage of the buildings’ activities. This idea is also pursued in the interior under the form of a dynamic system of signage. The objective is to give the FRAC a tool that is sized by its public dimension, open and visible.

By its new open urban façade, obtained through the demolition of the existing building on the Boulevard Rocheplatte, the FRAC Centre is connected to the urban cultural promenade of Orleans, the interior court thus becoming a public plaza. We have displaced the centre of gravity to the heart of the site. The new architectural intervention is the new point of gravity, a new structure, a new geometry and a new departure for the site, creating an architecture with a new presence that communicates a welcoming, an opening, and a vision for both the public and researchers. The project explains itself through its extraverted nature.

These “turbulences” are to be investigated as a metaphor, inspiring the architecture which is in turn exuded to the public or passers-by along the edges of the site.

The language of these turbulences was born of the site. We want this project to be as a creation of the site itself, practically “self-created” from site conditions, thus describing all the acting forces.

It is a project full of life, communicating, revealing, provoking, stimulating and informing.

FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-34-Roland-Halbe-759x568 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

About FRAC Centre:

The FRAC Centre, funded by the Centre region and the Ministry of Culture and Communication, is one of a ‘new generation’ of FRAC institutions that have already proved themselves as centres of cultural appeal. The objective is to engage dialogue between disciplines at the heart of new equipment. Its programme will join: museum collection functions and artistic experimentation, mediation and cultural activities.

FRAC Centre is located at the former Subsistances militaires site in Orléans. This architectural renovation was undertaken by the Centre region, the contracting authority, in cooperation with the state – Ministry of Culture and Communication – regional office of cultural affairs (DRAC), Europe (under FEDER) and the City of Orléans.

FRAC-Centre-Les-Turbulences-By-Jakob-Macfarlane-Architects-37-Roland-Halbe-759x432 FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects

© Roland Halbe

Project Data:

Project name: FRAC Centre – Les Turbulences
Location: 88 rue du Colombier, bvd Rocheplatte, 45 000 Orléans, France
Coordinates: 47.904078, 1.896732
Type: Exhibition Center, Gallery
Program: Permanent & Temporary Exhibition Rooms, Library, Public Spaces
Surface: 3,400 sqm
Status: Completed
Cost: 8.5 M €
Completion Year: September, 2013
Visit FRAC Centre’s website: here

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Région Centre
Architects: Jakob + Macfarlane Architects – 13-15 rue des Petites Écuries, 75010 Paris, France
Artist Intervention: Electronic Shadow – Naziha Mestaoui, Yacine Ait Kaci
Structure: Batiserf – Emmer Pflenninger ond Parnter AG
Fluids: Bet Choulet
Economy: Bureau Michel Forgue
Acoustics: J-P Lamoureux
Solutions Philips: Flex LMX (16,000 points lumineux)
Text Description: © Courtesy of Jakob + Macfarlane Architects, FRAC Centre
Images: © Jakob + Macfarlane Architects, Roland Halbe, Nicolas Borel

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FRAC Centre - Les Turbulences / Jakob + Macfarlane Architects
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