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Cabourg, Lemoal Lemoal Architectes, France

Colourful terracotta: Cultural and Social Centre in Cabourg

Cabourg’s new social and cultural centre has been realised on a site surrounded by development on all sides and concealed from road traffic, meaning the first thing the architects had to do was make changes in access. As a result, a pedestrian path now leads in a zigzag line across the site and between the two buildings that make up the social and cultural centre.

The form idiom of the facility is pared-down but effective in impression. Two L-shaped units enclose a courtyard that forms a public outdoor gathering space, giving rise to communicative interplay between the two buildings. Both are oriented in design and conceptual terms to the architecture typical of Normandy. Lemoal Lemoal took their inspiration from the archetype of half-timbered farmhouses, including the particular feature of slates or stone roofs that segue into the cladding of the façades.

In their contemporary interpretation, the architects deployed terracotta tiles that form a multicoloured envelope over the ridgeline of the roof and the eaves while also concealing part of the façade, as in the historical predecessors. Lemoal Lemoal collaborated with the Bavent plant in the canton of Cabourg for the production of the roof tiles, with use made of clay obtained in the factory quarry.

Wood acts as the second style element, as seen in the load-bearing frame structures on the one hand and the room-high windows and sunshade slats on the other.

A comprehensive room programme unites the two structural units, with entrances leading in all directions from the public court to the various interior areas. Open and public zones are centrally positioned, while enclosed offices and group rooms are organised around the quieter outer edges.

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