Sonorous body: Jonzac Congress Centre by Tetrarc
Client: Gemeindeverband Haute-Saintonge, Gemeinde Jonzac
Location: Avenue Jean Moulin, 17500 Jonzac (FR)
The first step was to excavate the limestone bedrock in order to partially embed the Congress Centre in its surroundings. Tetrarc Architects responded to the fissured landscape with a monolithic, entirely black building that confidently claims its place among the bluff rocky outcrops. Room is left at the northern end of the long-drawn-out site for landscaping and parking spaces.
The volume is broader in shape to the south and narrows out to the north. Featuring surfaces inclined at varying angles, it forms a compact volume in which sections oriented to the ground slant inwards to provide visitors arriving at the building a sheltered situation. Triangulated hidey-hole-like glazing seems to open up the volume at its lower levels, as particularly seen at the main entrance. The exterior elevations of the Congress Centre are completely clad in black and have a ribbed appearance due to the standing seam joints between individual panels.
The main activities at the Congress Centre are organised on its southern side, with merely supply activities being effected from the north. The entrance to the building leads over to the open foyer, where visitor circulation and movement to the further facilities is organised. The area, formed as a gallery parallel to the road leading past the southern facade of the Congress Centre, links all the public parts of the building, making it a communicative place for encounter and interaction. A huge panorama window on the first floor opens up views onto the surrounding landscape. In this area the walls are almost completely white and thanks also to the glazing provide the foyer a light-flooded look. Staircases and timber elements set the occasional colour accent.
Along with the foyer the room programme includes a two-storey seminar area in the west wing followed by a large multi-purpose hall; this can be adapted to various events and room setups in no time at all according to requirements, whether these are for a congress with seating for over 400 participants or freely arranged exhibition spaces. The multi-purpose hall is followed by a number of administrative rooms, including technical and catering rooms and loading docks, positioned by Tetrarc Architects to form a spatial and acoustic buffer between the hall and the west wing's final element: the auditorium, indisputably the highlight of the building. Offering enough room for an audience of 500, the space is separated into two volumes – the stage and the audience area, presenting themselves in differing guises, whereby maintenance and technical elements played an important role in their design along with sound and resonance considerations. The auditorium surrounds the audience with a series of gently undulating elements in a design that makes them an experience not only in visual but above all in acoustic terms. The material used consists of a rattan-gypsum composite, which provides the advantages of both materials while offering the perfect combination of mass and surface area for meeting the specific acoustic requirements.