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Author(s): Julian Pierre, CAUE de la Moselle

“Grosser Garten” Arts Centre

The Grosser Garten arts centre was inaugurated in September 2014 in the Lorraine village of Schorbach, at the heart of the Vosges Mountains. Faraway from urban centres and main roads, this rural area essentially lives from tourism: the Northern Vosges Regional Natural Park, remains of the Citadel of Bitche, the former Meisenthal, Saint-Louis-les-Bitches and Wingen-sur-Moder crystal manufactures…

A motto by Claude and Jacqueline Reslinger symbolizes the birth of the project: “Receiving, Giving”. The intention of the retired couple of retailers was steered by a shared passion for art and they invested their time in a local association of artistic expression and sharing. They wanted to broaden its range of influence. Their curiosity led them to Joseph Pyrz, a sculptor that they started supporting. The project for the arts centre thus became organised around the works of the polish artist with a clear objective to incarnate and transcend the diffusion of a shared art at the very core of rural life.

After viewing at many locations and envisaging countless partnerships, Claude and Jacqueline set their hearts on their own village. The fruitful and strong-willed collaboration began with the commune in an impatient generosity. The building created by Claude and Jacqueline Reslinger was then “restored” to the commune.

Architect Gabriel Marot accompanied this gestational process and designed the project in a spirit of close complicity. At the time, Claude and Jacqueline’s ambition consists in creating a place that will “enter in the local history of the men and women”: the mission of the architect is thus both to “make work” and to bring a strong ecological imprint into the construction.

On the edges of the village and around the forest, like a “lived-in bridge”, the wooden structure building built on stilts crosses a stream in a floodable valley bottom. The arts centre is accessible at each side, in continuity with a footpath bordered with pink sandstone sculptures. In the building, a long circulation serves all the exhibition areas and an artists’ workshop. This continuity of open spaces is designed to encourage exchanges and the emulation between visitors and artists. The bay windows framing the landscape were studied to grasp the sun in circulation areas and to filter the natural light in exhibition spaces.

For the past two years, the building has been the property of the commune, who is only responsible for paying the insurance costs of the building. The “Alliance” association created by Claude and Jacqueline Reslinger handles the day-to-day management of the building whilst the staff is made up of local volunteers. The Association organises constantly renewed events and exhibitions since September 2014.

Faced with the success and emulation created around the Arts Centre, an extension is currently being built and will integrate an existing piece in the commune as well as an artistic creation workshop dedicated to a local association. This new project for an extension is now financed by the commune and enjoys financing from the region and the department.

Programme : Arts Centre