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Jugendzentrum, Frankreich, Cabestany

A Puzzle with Possibilities: Youth Centre in Cabestany

Does anyone remember Agenda 21, which was introduced at the United Nations Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992? In most cities the plan to promote civic involvement in sustainable urban development has long since fizzled out. However, in Cabestany, a town near Perpignan in the south of France, the plan has borne fruit. Fifteen years ago, an idea in the spirit of Agenda 21 arose to build a new youth centre. At the end of 2017, the new building by Toulouse’s Oeco architectes was inaugurated.

At first glance, only the diverse windows of the new structure hint at the multifaceted spatial program within. With its youth centre, dance and event hall and communal accommodation for young adults, the crystal-shaped building brings together three different uses over its 1,700 m². This space is distributed over five half-storeys in split-level formation and an attic that covers the entire area.

All the way downstairs, a central atrium separates the dance hall from the spaces of the youth centre. Both areas can be accessed from outside. The accommodation for young adults, found on the two upper storeys, also has a separate entrance at the top of an exterior staircase. This spatial diversity is unified by the choice of materials. Large parts of the building consist of concrete: grey for the interior ceilings and walls, light-beige for the façades and sunshades.

For the design of the surfaces, the architects have distinguished between the cutouts in the area of the access zones and the exterior surrounding shell. In the cutouts, the concrete is smooth. Outside, on the other hand, the shell features pilaster strip profiles which continue in the form of shading slats in front of the openings and access areas.

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