This project for restructuring an existing shopping centre built in 1977 responds to issues surrounding urban and landscape requalification and fits within a plan to redevelop the east side of the city. More than a shopping centre, the project involved creating a new urban space that attracts people to meet and visit, and that contributes to the expansion and enhancement of Cherbourg-Octeville.
In addition, the project was intended to give a new image to the Bassins neighbourhood and create a point of linkage between the east and west sides of the city – between the Carnot neighbourhood and the historic city centre – so that the new neighbourhood would be integrated qualitatively and lastingly in the history of the city, its sailors, and its ships.
With these goals in mind, we conceived this project as an urban space open to a public square, some pools, and the city. More than a shopping centre, we created a facility by inventing a new aesthetic form.
A tubular gauze to capture light
Starting from the observation that retail has no pre-established form and wanting to break away from the constraints of an existing building that no longer fulfils its aesthetic and functional role, we created a “ship” designed for harmonious integration into the vast landscape of rock and sea.
Our restructuring and expansion of the existing commercial hub is a play on light, a series of folds, grids, and reflections, a custom-made cladding in which the constantly changing sky is mirrored. The building’s skin comes alive thanks to a semi-opaque fabric composed of thin aluminum and metal tubes that capture and interact with the light.
This exterior cladding offers depth in the reading of the façades, answering the criticisms often made about the opacity of the original building’s concrete wall.
A City Between Sea and Mountains
A new, asymmetrical silhouette – sometimes transparent, sometimes reflective – emerges, in dialogue with the Roule Mountain, and in harmony with the vista of the surrounding natural landscape in the background. A sign of the new in the city, the strength and modernity of its architecture speak of the future. Moored to the docks, in pink granite in the midst of the ships, at night it metamorphoses and sails away, evoking the idea of travel.
Location: Cherbourg, France
Area: 40 000 sqm
Architects: Arte Charpentier Architectes & CALQ Architecture
Photographs: Alain Caste