The programme of this competition, won in 2008 by Hamonic + Masson & Associés architects, was to reconstruct the Marne departmental archives annexe, situated in the French city of Reims. The new construction is located opposite the old building, and the project was completed and delivered by Hamonic + Masson & Associés in 2014. The aim was to turn the building in to a modern history research hub and a regional information centre, whilst expanding the linear archival storage space from 7km to 18km.
Considering the size and the impact on the site, we wanted this project for the Reims archives to be read in several ways, to tell different tales depending on distance or nearness to the building, and to allow the discovery of many different elements and feelings as one walks through.
Located on a gentle slope, the building stands in such a way that does not spoil or overload the setting. It’s a line that we see from the background. Visitors take a path that gradually gives way to the access ramp. The reception area is an intermediary space, before opening onto the inner garden. The entrance demonstrates the building’s functional organisation that we see through the transparent patio.
The effect of time will reveal the charm of the natural, raw materials (glass, metal and golden-brown varnished concrete.) With their richness, textures and vibrations, these industrial materials gain in poetry. It is an aesthetic refinement, which, if applied with care, gives the building consistency and identity.
The entire building is in an ochre, bronze tint that reflects the colours of the land in the building’s location: the Marne region. A specific metallic tint mixed with stronger gold pigments was created for the project, with the reference RAL 1036.
The concrete is dyed with metallic gold pigments duplicating RAL 1036, and a reflective stain was colour matched and added. It is this juxtaposition between shades and tints that provides variation and depth to the concrete.
The aluminium metal cladding is coated with RAL 1036 metallic gold varnish with 90% shine. Five different types of pattern were created which, when assembled, create a plant like image effect on the building. The trees surrounding the building are reflected in the metal and overlap with the various patterns. The pattern is similar to a pixel, and was embossed in to the sheet metal in order to give relief to the façade and also to play with varying shadows and light throughout the day.
A reflective silicone structural glazing was chosen for the window glass in the conference room in order to create a mirror for the site’s vegetation.