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LE FORUM sports, associative & events facility in SAINT-LOUIS- France

Manuelle Gautrand Architecture


Located in Saint-Louis (Alsace, France), the “Forum” dedicated to replace the old “Palais des fêtes” of the town, is a cultural facility designed to host associative, sporting and cultural events. The land is located close to the city center of Saint-Louis in an area mixing different scales and uses.

The building is fortunate to be located on a widespread site, which enables a flat installation and a maximization of functionality and flexibility: all the functions communicate in a fluent way, without vertical breaks.

Several sub-spaces are created within the project: the Festival Hall situated on the North, the Great multifunctional Hall situated on the South, the public entrance halls on the West, the schoolchildren entrance hall on the East, and the storage rooms on the Northeast.

Designed like a puzzle, each space fits into the continuity of the next one, allowing a fluid circulation and rapid flow between the functions, where no corridor or galleries are needed. The 1,870 sq m wide and 13 meters high Great Hall hosts various functions: first it is dedicated to sport practice, namely basketball, handball, mini-handball, badminton, judo, and gymnastics, as much for the schoolchildren than for sportive competitions, sometimes on a national level for some of those disciplines (especially badminton). The Great Hall can also host concerts and shows, with a gauge of maximum 2,400 standing people, or about 1,000 seating on a mobile bleacher provided for the purpose. Lastly, it can also host exhibitions or/and fairs. It can be intersected in different ways thanks to a play of retractable sliding partitions, allowing for instance the organization of an exhibition while a sport practice is taking place for the schoolchildren.

The Festival Hall covers an area of 872 sq m, and is dedicated to host shows, associative events, weddings, or even fairs and exhibitions. Right next to it, a kitchen allows the organization of banquets of 600 persons maximum. That gauge can rise to 900 persons in case of a big event or a ball.

The Festival Hall can be opened directly on the Great Hall thanks to their connection, which is required when fairs and big events like the Book Fair are taking place and that the use of the whole building is necessary.

The modularity is also included for the accompanying functions: the long lobby on the east is leading to the two big areas, at the same time or not if the activities require a separation for a total operational independence. All the material is shared in storage rooms situated in northeast (450 sq m). We looked for extending the outdoor ambiances into the indoor spaces: as they are walking along the building, the visitors discover the coppered-metal façades, and at the moment they enter the welcoming hall, they find the long bar covered with the same large expanded metal panels. The hall seems at once flooded by this bar, but also by the reflections the chandelier is spreading into the space: its envelope made of expanded metal creates a filter that cuts the chandelier inner light and reflects it to the hall walls, grounds, and ceilings.

As mentioned above, our wish was to create a unified project, playing on both the multiplicity of the connected volumes, and on a global homogenous design. The inspiration has come from the context, which combines big orangey interlocking tile roofs with some industrial brick chimneys reminding the industrial past of the site.

The project is actually made of two envelopes with complementary functions: a first structural envelope, developed at the nearest of the functions, is forming the core and shell while guaranteeing thermal and acoustic insulations. This first structural envelope is made alternatively of reinforced concrete walls, or of a light metallic set. Over this envelope, a second skin is wrapped, made of large expanded metal panels, mounted on a very simple steel frame and relatively repetitive. Their mounting over the core and shell volume creates a void. This void, protected by the big uniting envelope that really embraces all the faces of the building, answers two technical issues: first, by masking the numerous and large-sized technical equipment that have been installed or/and spread on the roofs. Then, it makes a kind of thermal protection during summer, plunging all the roofs forming the core and shell and the technical equipment, into a protective relative darkness, while providing a kind of natural ventilation intensified by the expanded metal perforations. All of this finally enables to minimize the use of air conditioning.

The low energy consumption of the building has been achieved thanks the combination of these two complementary functions envelopes, among other things. The global performance of the building has guided the whole conception and design. The main goal was to reach the BBC label, that is a regulatory consumption level lower for a half of the reference consumption, which is a feat for a cultural facility dedicated to host shows inherently very energy intensive. The achievement of the BBC label has been obtained with dynamic thermal simulation. Furthermore, the powerful outside insulation and the low quantity of glass surfaces allow to limit the energy loss.

Location: Saint-Louis - France
Client: City of Saint-Louis
Completion: December 2015
Gross Floor Area: 5,713 m2
Architects: Manuelle Gautrand Architecture
Contractor: Pontiggia, Urban-Dumez, Cabrol

Structure: AIC
Fluids: ALTO
Quantity Surveyor: CHOLLEY
Fire Safety: CSD-FACES
Roads and networks: OTCI

Metal Cladding: Metal Deploye
Copper pigment: Akzo Nobel
Chairs: Vitra
Insulation: Knauf
Floor: Moso

Photography: © Guillaume Guerin and Luc Boegly

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