La Grande Passerelle, home of the main public cultural facilities of Saint-Malo, is immediately seen by travellers arriving from TGV (high-speed train) station. This cultural hub was designed by the Paris agency Architecture-Studio, and includes a media library, an art-house cinema, a media centre, and “4e lieu”, a multiuse space. It is located in the very centre of Saint-Malo and it completes the renewal of the area and the creation of a new hub at the heart of the three communities.
The foyer welcomes visitors to La Grande Passerelle. It provides access to the media library and the art-house cinema. The reception area, in several concentric rings like a seashell, houses the town’s tourist-cultural gateway and continues on the interior of the media library. The cinema mezzanine above it provides a bridge to the town: it opens as a viewpoint over the station esplanade, framing the view thus created.
Architecture-Studio has designed a huge area for the media library – fluid and flexible, with ample, controlled natural lighting. A curved area, covered in anthracite zinc, protects the collections and the offices of the administrative staff. This “looping band”, through its self-contained nature, its curved geometry and the material of which it is made, creates a tension in the space. The warmth of wood dominates: structural pillars made of glued, laminated wood and a ceiling of solid wood planks design curves in the space. The glass façade to the south is protected from the sun by external protective blinds.
The north façade of the media library is a curtain of undulating concrete; thick, painted pearly white. It is pierced by glass panels in an irregular pattern in a random rhythm that suggests sparkling. This theme is taken up again in the use of glass in the media library foyer, and in the night-time lighting of the esplanade, where the ground is scattered with luminous scales. The “looping band” ends at the western façade, with suitable signage marking the presence of the cultural hub in the town.
The rhythm of its façade onto the street is created by large glazed gaps. The concrete walls are screen-printed with poems and quotations from authors.
Inside, the flow of people is organised in such a way that different uses do not conflict with each other. After buying tickets in the foyer, spectators go up to the cinema on the mezzanine level where the waiting area is. In this way, the foyer is always available as information area and meeting point. The organisation of circulation means that on exiting the cinemas, it is possible either to go back to the foyer or to go directly outside.
The “4e lieu” and the digital centre, along with the foyer, provide convivial spaces related to the outside areas. The “4e lieu” hosts different events: literature café, exhibitions, etc. These activities continue outside onto the wooden deck area. The digital centre opens onto the western square.
In addition, the cultural hub has exterior screens that extend the media library’s cultural programme into the town.
The ambiance of the media library and the cinema is warm and welcoming. The wood of the pillars, the canopy and the waxed concrete floor dominate the interior styling of the media library. As a counterpoint of the pre-weathered anthracite zinc of the “looping band”, it participates in the urban character of the cultural hub. Ultimately, there are few materials and a controlled aesthetic.
The colour is provided by the signage and the furnishings. The design of the furnishings and the consultation areas was carefully planned keeping in mind their ergonomic relation to the general environment of the media library and to the specific environments linked to particular subjects: music, literature, press, films, etc.
The ambiance of the cinema was designed creating a tension between the exterior spaces associated with the foyer, the open, light spaces of the mezzanine, and the screening rooms, with their more intimate, muffled atmosphere.
The overall design of the public area is as a forum open to the inhabitants of the town and to visitors. This dynamic hub is spread out around the cultural hub, the station area, and the neighbouring shops, with the aim of establishing close spatial and visual relationships within the neighbourhood. There are many interactions, in fact, to diffuse culture throughout the town and encourage exchanges in a spirit of friendliness.
The external public spaces of La Grande Passerelle are defined by their different uses. They constitute a series of identified and defined places, linked together but each with their own different function and ambiance. Their locations fulfil two criteria at the same time: being open to the sun and managing any possible nuisance, to achieve the best possible co-existence. Architecture-Studio has created more peaceful spaces to the south – the square, on the decked terraces, the garden – and more lively spaces to the north, around the exterior amphitheatre.
Tecno produced for the Saint-Malo Media Library by Architecture Studio a special ribbon which winds continuously inside and outside the hall, favouring unconventional use of the reading, work and listening spaces. Made of Corian, it emerges constantly from the floor and generates different heights as it develops. The fluidity of the ribbon is punctuated by hinge elements, in red to support signs, the seats and other equipment.
Within the library spaces, two completely soundproofed volumes house areas dedicated to listening activities. Reading, play and viewing spaces furnished with seats and bean bag chairs have been dedicated to children.
Location: Saint-Malo, France
Client: Town of Saint-Malo
Area: 6500 m2
Cost: 23,000,000 Euros
Contractor: SOGEA Bretagne
Visual Identity: Thomas Kieffer
Custom Made: Omlarchitecture
Program: Le Troisième Pôle
Custom Made: Tecno
Photography: © Mereglier-Coudrais, © Luc Boegly, © Frederic Baron