Jakob + MacFarlane

Les Turbulences, FRAC Centre, Orléans, 2006

Commissioned by the Région Centre, the new FRAC Centre (Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, or regional collection of contemporary art) is located in Orleans on the site of the former “Subsistances Militaires,” or army food depot, which has hosted ArchiLab. Rencontres internationales d’Architecture d’Orléans since its creation in 1999. This architectural rehabilitation project provides the FRAC Centre with a home adapted to its missions and its vocation: bringing contemporary art and architecture to the public, and establishing itself as a laboratory, unique in the world, for architecture in its most innovative dimension. The program notably comprises 1600 m2 dedicated to exhibitions, a lecture hall, a learning space as well as a documentation center. The rehabilitation project for these old buildings dating from the 19th century is expanded and enhanced by the creation of a new structure, the Turbulences, associating architectural experimentation with openness to the city. Jakob+MacFarlane have designed an emergent dynamic form based on the parametric deformation and extrusion of the framework of the existing buildings. A powerful architectural signal, interacting with its context, this fluid and hybrid structure emerges in three glass and metal forms surging up from the ground in the inner courtyard at the center of the “Subsistances”. The principle of emergence at work here is also extended to the surrounding environment: the courtyard is treated as a topographical relief stretching out towards the town in a movement of organic expansion. A skin of light, designed by associate artists Electronic Shadow, covers the Turbulences thanks to a dynamic texture of LEDs on which image, material and information merge. A genuine urban beacon, they also act as an illuminated sign facing the city and informing the public about the FRAC Centre’s programming. In this project, the conceptual and surgical approach to the urban fabric developed by Jakob+MacFarlane re-qualifies the site, inscribing new points of equilibrium, “shifting” the architecture and providing contemporary creation with a dynamic and evolving image. “Living” architecture, permeable to urban flows, the FRAC Centre will become the emblem of a place dedicated to experimentation in all its forms, to the hybridization of disciplines and to architecture’s mutations in the digital age.

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