Realized by Populus in collaboration with Ferrier Marchetti Studio, as well as Cahix & Morel Architects, Centre Orléans Métropole (CO'Met) is the first multi-functional facility in France combining an arena, conference hall, and exhibition centre. The complex offers a new and powerful architectural image at the entrance to the metropolis of Orléans. It will also serve as a venue for the 2024 Summer Olympics, with the arena approved for international competitions in volleyball, handball, badminton, boxing, gymnastics, judo, athletics, and basketball.
Situated on the banks of the Loire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, CO-Met's fluid and soft architecture is inspired by the gentle surrounding atmosphere. The undulating drape of the facades floats in front of the buildings, creating transparencies and evocative silhouettes. At night, CO-Met is transformed by a sublet lighting concept.
In a move that reaches out and engages the surrounding context, the complex is entered under a large open-air canopy that connects the urban forecourt on the tramway side to an existing preserved forest area, thus anchoring the presence of nature at the heart of the visitor's experience.
The facility has been designed to host indoor sports events, concerts, and large-scale shows with a 3,000m² platform and modular stands for up to 10,000 seats along with a ring of 28 boxes, each housing between nine and thirty seats, in the area bowl area. In addition, a 360-degree LED banner screen provides 260 linear meters of advertising, while an LED cube hanging from the ceiling is designed to replay action and enhance the event experience.
The project takes an ambitious stance toward sustainability. For starters, the volumes supplied by geothermal energy demonstrate frugality with the light and delicate facades using as little material as possible. Inside, the concrete structure is left exposed and without any added material. Signage is directly applied to bare concrete walls.
Finally, the architects note that one of the best ways to respond to climate issues is to make the best and most efficient use of the building itself once constructed by programming for multi-functionality versus mono-functionality to extend the intensity and time slots of facility use.