brenac & gonzalez & associés redesigns 1983 cafeteria in france
brenac & gonzalez & associés (BGA) has redesigned a shared company cafeteria built by architect and designer marc held in 1983 as part of the former IBM office complex in pompignane, in the inner suburbs of montpellier, france. the site, which is now home to some ten office buildings scattered around this 28-hectare mediterranean landscape, was purchased by the covivio company in 2004 and 2007 with the aim of attracting new technology companies and foster montpellier’s own ‘silicone valley’. BGA’s intervention in the existing cafeteria involves two main parts: the rehabilitation of the beautiful heritage on the site, which includes the preservation and restoration of key architectural elements; and the extension of the program with a new building.
all images © sergio grazia unless stated otherwise
header image © stefan tuchila
EXTENDING THE EXISTING CONSTRUCTION WHILE PRESERVING HERITAGE
brenac & gonzalez & associés was commissioned to redesign marc held’s 1983 building, whose architecture was greatly influenced by gallo-roman villas. the existing construction is organized around two interior patios, the main one being surrounded by a portico of wooden columns and enclosed by walls made of alternating layers of stone blocks and cobblestones. BGA preserved the architectural heritage of the site, including the overhanging frameworks, roman-style tile roofs, composite peripheral walls, columns, wooden carpentry, ground paved with sandstone, and the raw concrete for the original interior structure. broad gaps have also been cut in the peripheral wall to further open the ‘bastide’ to the magnificent landscape of the surrounding campus. meanwhile, a hollow dug out of part of the central courtyard brings light into the ground floor.
the demolition of the old kitchens, made of exposed cinder blocks, allowed for an extension of the program. BGA constructed the new volume with a similar system of patios, and placed inside a business center, an amphitheater, a co-working area, offices for local start-ups, and fitness and wellness areas. an ‘agora’ – a sunlit, linear area – serves as the link between the existing and the new building, pulling the various programs together. the new building is topped by a series of outdoor theaters and planted terraces, linked by various ramps. fragrances of pine, lavender, fig trees, and jasmine envelop users in a relaxing atmosphere, bringing them close to the broader landscape of the area.
the existing construction is organized around two interior patios
image © vincent boutin
the new building is topped by a series of outdoor theaters and planted terraces