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Author(s): Hart Berteloot

Activity and dance centre

The Activity and Dance Centre is part of the cultural and educational policy of a rural municipality on the edges of the Lille metropolitan area, in the north of France.

This special project was built following an award of services without non-competitive tender, without a defined schedule or budget. The Hart Berteloot Studio was selected based on a methodology: first, and before even designing the project, it defined a program and expanded siting strategy, beyond even the construction alone, together with representatives of the municipality and users. This cooperation was carried out based on many design models that accompanied the design of the project through to its completion on the construction site. The project, which was initially intended to replace a school of dance established in an obsolete prefabricated building, became a more ambitious project for the municipality to live together. The new building plays on the context, placing itself, to the south, as close as possible to the adjoining buildings to clear a space for a garden on the west shared with two other nearby schools. The setback thus created allows the three recreation rooms to open up through large bay windows onto an outdoor space framed by a long peripheral wall. The wall shadows the new building to put some distance between it and the neighbouring residential ensembles.

Installed along an alley leading to a canal, the project takes advantage of the slope of the lot to form a mineral base, a transition area between the village centre and the facility. It forms a parvis, a sort of promontory on the public garden and the canal, delimited by the peripheral wall (cited above). Built of concrete, the wall resembles the base material to form a physical line of continuity while delimiting a protected space: an outdoor play area for the children and the entrance to the school and the neighbouring after-school day-care centre.

In a limited economic context, the simple but not minimalist volume is enhanced by implementation of clean materials free of useless finishing work. The materials selected are inexpensive and most are produced locally, such as the concrete block from a recycling centre left bare, or the use of insulation manufactured by a company in the municipality that recovers old clothing. Cleared of anything superfluous, the brick and concrete block architecture fades into the background, to simply make a place for ordinary life.

Function : Activity and dance centre