Maison de la Culture: creating new life along the Sambre River
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Maison de la Culture: creating new life along the Sambre River

Samyn and Partners Architects & Engineers

Maison de la Culture: creating new life along the Sambre River
By Editorial Staff -

The project for the refurbishment and expansion of the Maison de la Culture in Namur, the work of Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS, aimed to meet the current needs of the local people as well as redevelop its part of the city.

© Ghislain André (SAMYN and PARTNERS)

Originally designed by Victor Bourgeois and built in the early ’60s, the Maison de la Culture in Namur, Belgium, has undergone considerable renovation and expansion to meet local people’s current needs and to allow for the redevelopment of Rue des Bouchers and the banks of the Sambre River. The existing building consisted of a four-level rectangular prism–shaped volume with a south-facing curtain wall overlooking the river. It housed a 400-seat theater and incorporated a second five-level structure, nicknamed the “croissant,” with its curved curtain wall facing east.

© Ghislain André (SAMYN and PARTNERS)

Besides preserving and enhancing the existing buildings, Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS’ project involved new buildings, including the “Prow Cylinder” – adjacent to the Croissant – which includes a terrace area for audiences.

The complex now comprises a small art gallery with entrance area; a restaurant; shops; recording studios; meeting rooms; the main entrance; an entrance for VIPs, artists, and staff; the main theater with a ceiling fresco by Yves Zurstrassen; a smaller theater in the Prow Cylinder; a multimedia library; numerous classrooms and creative workshops; a museum; and an exhibition area that extends up to the fourth floor and opens onto a large terrace, home to the Pechère Garden. All common areas have independent and direct access from the existing main staircase and from the newly built adjacent elevator.

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS, architects & engineers

With their clean lines, the facades take advantage of both natural sunlight, which illuminates the building throughout the day, and natural ventilation. Vertical sunshading, on the eastern elevation, and canopies, on the other elevations, regulate the amount of sunlight and provide sufficient shade, when needed, to keep the interiors cool. The construction of lightwells has also brought natural light to the three theaters.

© Quentin Olbrechts (SAMYN and PARTNERS)

The complex acts as a kind of acoustic screen, dampening the noise from Avenue Golenvaux and Rue des Bouchers, and, therefore, improving noise levels along the river.

The redevelopment of the areas surrounding the building centered on optimizing the flow of pedestrians and cyclists, opening the area to people with reduced mobility, and providing loading zones.

On Avenue Golenvaux, the new cylindrical building acts as the “prow” of the entire complex – the fulcrum for the flow of pedestrians that develops around it. When viewed from Boulevard Brunell, the cylinder highlights the curve of the Victor Bourgeois building, which, with its raised elevation, now has a majestic appearance.

© Quentin Olbrechts (SAMYN and PARTNERS)

Location: Avenue Golenvaux, 5000 Namur, Belgium

Gross area: 5.959 sqm.

Client: Province de Namur

Design and Build with Cœur de Ville (Thomas & Piron)

Architects & Engineers: Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS sprl, architects & engineers (SAI)- Philippe SAMYN

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Architecture Design Partner : Dr Ir Philippe Samyn; Administrative Partner: Ghislain André; Principal architect: Giuseppe Cardillo; Collaborators: Adrian Anghel, Karim Ammor, Guido Bruzzi, Pierre Carteni, Louis Chaumont, Gilles Demol, Silvia Figoli, Olivier Gennart, Cristina Ibanez Moreno, Roser Igual, Alexandra Ionesi, Ali Laghrari, Aimeric Mavillaz, Ana Miralles Barreda, Mara Parfenovica, Daniel Perez Justel, Vlad Popa, Alexio Rava, Radu Somfelean, Gülin Yazicioglu. Stuctural engineering: SAI with MC-carré sprl, Gaëtan Cordi

Building services engineering / PEB : SAI with SIX Consulting & Engineering s.a. / DTS & CO s.a. SIX Consulting & Engineering s.a.

Scenography : dUCKS scéno, Melissa Ribeiro and Pierre Jaubert de Beaujeu

Acoustics : Altia, Richard Denayrou

Museography : François Mairesse

Urban design / Landscape (competition) : Agora, Serge Peeters

BREEAM : SECO, Technical Control Office for Construction, Etienne Guiot

Outdoor lighting advisor : Magic Monkey sprl/bvba, Marc Largent

Health and safety coordination : SIXCO

Accessibility for disabled persons : asbl PLAIN-PIED, Julie Vanhalewyn

Guest artist : Yves Zurstrassen

Signposting : sdesign sprl, François-Joseph de Lantsheere

Environmental studies : Daidalos Peutz bouwfysisch ingenieursbureau bvba, Filip Descamps

Microclimates studies : Cenaero, Cécile Goffaux, Sébastien Pecceu

Kitchen advisor : FBO Freddy Oushoorn

Historic advisor : Philippe Bragard

Advisor for his own work : Félix Roulin

Additional renderings : ASYMETRIE sprl, Xavier Vanabelle, Michaël Barrin

Model : AMA, Atelier de Maquettes d’Architecture, Francis Van Hoye 

Documentation management: Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS (André CHARON and Quentin OLBRECHTS)

Drawings: Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS


Photography: © Quentin Olbrechts e Ghislain André (SAMYN and PARTNERS)

courtesy of SAMYN and PARTNERS

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