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Heams & Michel Architects - France
Benjamin Michel and Nicolas Heams met at the School of Architecture of Marseille, France. A common architectural approach arose then wherein the genesis of the project is to put in tension three elements: “ the program, the site, the material. Our paths diverged after the graduation. Benjamin practices in different agencies like Architecture-Studio in Paris or CAB Architectes in Nice while Nicolas begins alone. In 2005 the binomial reforms in Nice to collaborate mainly on public procurement. Mediterranean landscape in which we operate is the raw material of our work. It is foremost to develop a simple architectural style and not ostentatious. It is this attitude that allows us to cope with the strength of this landscape. Whatever the complexity or the scale of the project, each time it’s to do with the constraints without lapse into the exceptional.
The building is part of a plot where is erected a secondary school, and a gymnasium. This new building reserved for students is intended for gymnastics and circus. The program simplicity led us to reflect on the plastic side of the project. In fact, the area of study of the circus, put out the physical and moral development, includes a cultural, artistic, and social. The transience of the circus that is assembled and disassembled in cities remains in the collective unconscious. Our project is an allegory of the circus tent. The idea is simple “ a concrete box that was covered with a cloth “. Concealment becomes mystery, and make us perceive differently what was commonplace before. We wanted to create a sculptural object concealed and packed in a skin of concrete, corrugated as a wavy stage curtain. The yellow ocher color gives the blind walls an expression of lightness heightened by the fact that the stamped concrete does not touch the ground. Because of this, the object, which could have been a simple gym, takes an artistic dimension. By this project, the idea of a building disappears in favor of an object carved in relation to its context and program. The rationale for the staging of such an object lies in the definition of the close relationship between sports, circus, entertainment, art, and social.