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Junya Ishigama on the cover of the October 2019 issue of Azure Magazine. The Innovators Issue.
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October 2019

#275
October 2019

The Innovators Issue: Junya Ishigama's genre-busting architecture, Sidewalk Labs and the future of the city, and more!

Azure The Fantastic FRAC Centre in France 01
The new building sits centrally among old military ration houses repurposed to house the FRAC’s collection of architectural artifacts dating from the 1950s.

“We certainly felt the pressure to design something that could ride out the changes of architecture’s different experimental periods,” says Brendan MacFarlane, principal of the Paris studio Jakob + MacFarlane. He is speaking about the FRAC Centre, a daring architectural museum that recently opened in the French city of Orléans.

Its most expressive structure is a faceted aluminum mound that tucks up against an existing building to the south, like a skin, and explodes upward with three extruded volumes, the glass-capped skylights shorn off at various heights like tree stumps. Evoking a circus tent, the geometric entrance pavilion sits centrally in a new U‑shaped courtyard, which the architects created by opening up a closed-off quadrangle of disused French military ration houses dating from the 18th century.

Azure The Fantastic FRAC Centre in France 02
The aluminum-clad entrance pavilion, with doors that ­funnel visitors into the museum.

Clad in Reynobond composite panels of two-ply aluminum sandwiched around a resin core, the intervention was early on christened Les Turbulences. “The name derives from the idea of instability, something in flux, in process,” says MacFarlane. “It reflects this collection of experimental works, tentative but often not necessarily realized.”

Two peaked bulges on the ground level serve as entryways, drawing patrons from the concrete-clad plaza into the calmer, poplar-lined interior, which features a café, a book shop and a video gallery. They then funnel visitors into the more restrained principal galleries, inside the three former ration stockades. These refurbished spaces house some 800 architectural models and more than 15,000 drawings from the 1950s onward, including works by Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid and Winka Dubbeldam. As Dominique Jakob says, “In the galleries, it’s all about stepping back and letting the work of other architects and creators take the primordial presence.”

Azure The Fantastic FRAC Centre in France 03
Inside, the structure’s canopied geometries are lined with poplar.

At night, an LED display, designed in collaboration with Paris duo Electronic Shadow (Yacine Aït Kaci and Naziha Mestaoui), dances upon the surface of the tallest skylight tower, which reaches a height of 17 metres. The light show displays dynamic geometric patterns that map such real-time data as wind speed and the position of the sun. The lights may recede as day breaks, but the building itself, with its intelligent knitting of old and new, is designed to endure architecture’s turbulent shifts. ­

AZURE is an independent magazine working to bring you the best in design, architecture and interiors. We rely on advertising revenue to support the creative content on our site. Please consider whitelisting our site in your settings, or pausing your adblocker while stopping by.