Hidden dissonances: Allende music centre in Mons-en-Baroeul
This can already be seen in the building's structure, which on its ground floor still conforms to the large, orthogonal post-war blocks that determine the downtown area of Mons-en-Baroeul. The upper floor, however, twists away from this right-angled grid – in the process providing the building a sightline to the town hall, as the architects explain.
However, this unconventional pivoting is naturally also a way of creating spatial tension. On its exterior, the building is comparatively sober in appearance. Some of the surfaces on its facades are rough; others are polished, with merely fine shards of mirror glass lending the concrete a gently sparkling effect when the sun shines.
Inside the building, two things in particular stand out: music – and coming and going, seeing and being seen on the stairways and galleries of the foyer. In contrast, the administrative offices are accorded only the minimum of space and even the catering area is little more than a concrete bar counter next to the main entrance.
The focal point of the building is a concert hall with a retractable tiered system providing seating for 500 or standing room for 1,000. An instrument storage area and three rehearsal rooms, of which one can be used for recording purposes, are located on the upper floor. Coulon, an avowed fan of complexity, expresses his dislike of banality and straight-forward solutions in the interior's tilted, partially perforated or mirrored black and white wall and ceiling surfaces. This impression is heightened still further in the foyer, where staircases and galleries intersect at various points, their black lacquered underfaces leaving a rather sombre mood in the areas below. It is not until the uppermost storey that this discordant impression is reversed with a white plasterboard ceiling in which fitted lights are to recall a starry sky.