Covered in Folds: Multifunctional Centre in Venarey-les-Laumes
Client: Ville de Venarey-Les Laumes
Architect: Dominique Coulon & Associés
Location: Avenue de la gare, F–21150 Venarey-Les Laumes
Just which overarching typology this two-storey, striking hybrid belongs to is open to question. The most striking thing here is that the building combines several of the public-use structures often designed by Dominique Coulon & Associés in one autonomous centre.
The glazed ground floor opens its folded front onto the street, providing an unobstructed view of the railway lines located directly behind the building. The foyer, located in the middle, has a vertically linear access that divides the ground level into clear functional areas. One side is home to the tourist office, which is next to the sanitary area and the multi-generation centre. The other side features a roof-high auditorium.
The upper storey lifts itself from the ground not only by means of extravagant juts and recesses, but also by its different materiality. A deep, triangular recess on the back side of the façade and a shallow angle facing towards the front side accentuate the spatial distribution resulting from the original concept of developing two cubes placed obliquely to each other. Behind the rhombic perforation of the otherwise extensively closed-off concrete volume, there is a small, yellow outdoor area set in front of the day-care centre. Thanks to the raised façade, this serves as a barrier against unwanted glances and noise. The light yellow is typical of the love of colour often shown by the architects.
The smooth, glass façade on the ground floor creates a bold contrast to the rough geometry of the upper shell, which appears in folds. The matte or glossy concrete rhombus shapes created by the folds give this edgy multifunctional centre an unmistakable identity in its Burgundian surroundings.