This Contemporary Music Centre (SMAC) is a musical complex consisting of two auditoriums of very different kinds and recording studios, linked by a public space called the deck, running from one side of the building to the other. It is designed on the principle that, instead of being mere consumers of entertainment, people can construct their own evening by moving from one place to the other.
The site is a corner of the Bel Ebat fairground, on the edge of the historic town centre of Evreux. The difficulty lies in the size relation between the new building, rather small and non-central, and the fairground, a huge empty esplanade. One of the challenges of the architecture is to create a synergy with the fairground activities – fetes, flea markets, circuses, etc.
To resist and exist in relation to the vast expanse of the fairground, the structure is dense, sculptural and autonomous. The main concert hall is on the first floor and sticks out, overhanging the entrance on the northern side.
For acoustic reasons, the concert rooms and recording studios are separate concrete boxes.
The whole structure is enveloped in a light metal skin, a double wall or over-roof that acts as an additional acoustic feature. From the outside, the volume is opaque, composed of triangular facets, some of them made of polished stainless steel that reflects the surrounding trees. It is imbued with a dual internal motion, the movement of the deck that crosses it and the movement of the roof which rises gradually to envelop the main auditorium. The deck operates like an immense interior/exterior hall stretching from the street to the esplanade. This course distributes and shows the different entities: main auditorium hall, local radio station studio, recording studios and the club, live-music café with its glass double façade fan folded for acoustic reasons. The deck opens southwards to become a wide porch, an urban theatre that acts both as a terrace for the club, and as a stage for outdoor concerts or shows.
Location: Évreux (Eure)
Client: Évreux municipality
Project management: Hérault Arnod Architectes, lead architects,
Camille Bérar, project manager
Michel Forgue, economist,
Ducks Scéno, stage design,
Area: 2450 m² + 570 m² covered linking areas
Costs: €8.5 million before tax
Programme: Concert room club (150 standing places + cafe restaurant)
Concert hall 600 standing places
Office and radio spaces
Covered connecting areas
About Hérault Arnod architectes
Hérault Arnod architectes is a Parisian architectural office founded in the early 1990’s in Grenoble by Yves Arnod and Isabel Hérault. The team comprises about fifteen architects with different profiles and from different nationalities who share a discriminating and prospective vision of architecture.
The office develops diverse programmes, from micro to macro, from small architectural objects to territorial scale projects. The clients are both public and private. The office escapes from the idea of programmatic specialisation and designs projects for working spaces, concert and theatre halls, sport and cultural equipments, housing buildings, mixed programmes, etc.
The office’s work includes the Cité Internationale de Rennes, the Brest Arena, the World Head Office of Skis Rossignol, the Bicycle Building, the 9/9bis mine conversion in Oignies. Concert halls (La Belle Electrique in Grenoble, the Metaphone, the SMAC in Evreux) or the Anglet Theatre. The main in progress projects are the Espace Mayenne (an arena in Laval), offices in Nantes and Grenoble, a hotel in Paris, the Trois Pays commercial and leisure centre for Unibail.