This operation forms part of the development of the port area of Saint-Nazaire, and is located within the former submarine base (a huge 295m x 130m concrete building), conversion of which has already been initiated by the completion of several public-use projects.
The development occupies three adjoining pens complementing the facilities of the LIFE centre, a multi-purpose hall already established within the base. To the north, the adjacent pen, left free of any construction, will serve as an outsized foyer for the hall. The main pen houses the event hall, onto which backs a service building containing the dressing rooms, locker rooms, and all the ventilation equipment, highlighted in the style of a large engine room. The adjacent cell to the south houses two buildings used for storage and administrative offices.
boxes in a box
The hall is a physically autonomous structure, and is acoustically disconnected from the base. It is enclosed to the west by a wall clad in gold-coloured metal panels, featuring a large window looking onto the internal road of the base. The facade of the hall overlooking the docks is entirely glazed. The annex building is made from clay bricks left exposed, while the office and storage buildings are covered with ribbed cladding in galvanised steel.
The interior ambience of the hall was given special consideration, with the aim of making it a flexible and welcoming space, contrasting with the austere feel of the former base. The floor is of red polished concrete, and a long picture rail of darkly toned plywood surrounds the lower part of the room at the height of the entrance doors. The frequency and design of the structural porticos, combining dark wooden ribs and fine metal parts, contributes to the penetration and reflection of natural light into the depths of the hall. Brass chandeliers, specially designed for the project, enable adjustment of the lighting, and are motorised to allow different heights and direct or indirect lighting. These mechanisms are complemented by an acoustic partition which separates the hall into two insulated units, and which can be retracted at the press of the button into the upper reaches of the roof.