by | 13. Aug 2012

Cultural | Feature

Image courtesy BIG


MÉCA, located on the historical riverfront of Bordeaux, will house three regional visual and performing arts agencies FRAC, the ECLA and the OARA in one single institution.

Team BIG+FREAKS freearchitects, dUCKS scéno, Khephren Ingénierie, VPEAS, ALTO Ingénierie, Vincent Hedont, PBNL, Mryk & Moriceau, and Ph.A recently won the competition to design the new Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine.


Image courtesy BIG

BIG’s proposal arranges the new center for contemporary art, the performing arts institution and the center for literature and movies around a public space open towards the city of Bordeaux and the Garonne River.

The three regional entities composing the program are idiomatic to the French public way of supporting and promoting culture all over the territory. Working on the MÉCA building in Bordeaux is a great occasion to cross views and balance between international references and local issues.
/FREAKS freearchitects

The building is conceived as a single loop of public space and cultural institutions as the pavement of the promenade rises to form the roof of the main lobbies, ascends vertically along the stage tower of OARA, bridges across the promenade with the sky lit galleries of the FRAC and returns vertically to the ground at the archives of the ECLA in order to reunite with the waterfront promenade.

The urban room is at once a frame for the artwork, a stage for the performances, a screening room for the media collections and most perhaps most importantly an open room for the urban life of Bordeaux to invade and engage with the arts.
/Andreas Klok Pedersen, Partner-in-Charge, BIG

Image courtesy BIG



Image courtesy BIG



Image courtesy BIG



Image courtesy BIG

The urban room allows everyday life of Bordeaux to flow through its generous frame along the promenade, injecting the art into the city and the city life into the building. The multiple ramps and stairs of the building create an institution that is publicly accessible and welcoming on the inside as well as the outside. The urban room and the informal seating of the stairs will make the MÉCA a lively place and a natural extension of the life along the Quai de Paludate street and the new promenade. During festivals or other special occasions in the city, the outside of the MÉCA can be transformed into a stage for outdoor concerts, theatrical spectacles or art installations.


Image courtesy BIG



Image courtesy BIG



Image courtesy BIG

Tailored to accommodate the proportions of the performance spaces, the backstage requirements, the archives and the art galleries, the building is tailored to the needs and desires of its individual tenants while fused to form a single urban frame. The building and promenade is clad in the limestone which constitutes the majority of Bordeaux’s architecture. As if carved from the same material as the city itself – the stone is promenade and facade, stair and terrace, roof and ceiling all together.


Image courtesy BIG


When a region or a city invests millions in a major new cultural institution – it often ends up benefiting only the informed few that already have an interest in the arts. Not only does the MÉCA spill its activities into the public realm and the urban room, but the public is also invited to walk around, through, above and below the new cultural gateway. By inviting the art into the city and the city into the arts, the MÉCA will provide opportunities for new hybrids of cultural and social life beyond the specific definitions of its constituent parts.
/Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG

Image courtesy BIGContinuity of the linear promenade



Image courtesy BIG Passage through the building


Image courtesy BIG Circulation loop


Image courtesy BIG Circulation diagram FRAC


Image courtesy BIG Circulation diagram ECLA


Image courtesy BIG 15 Circulation diagram OARA


CITY Bordeaux
ARCHITECT Jan Magasanik