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Françoise Raynaud, founder of loci anima architecture : “The interconnected mobile person of today needs mixed spaces, what we call “third spaces”.”
How does one go about creating an Alpha media library when there has been such a radical shift towards the use of virtual media?
Today, as architects, it is vital for us to initiate a pooling of spaces. This transition has already been initiated by libraries, seeking to keep pace with the interconnected world we live in today. Our project recognises this change – we wanted to make the Angoulême media library a real, living space that was open to the world, welcoming, accessible, a space that would encourage exchanges and erase social and cultural differences in the heart of the community. A special and unique place but a place that is also familiar, where the people of Greater Angoulême will be able develop their cultural and community mission through ambitious cultural and social projects.
You’ve made the Alpha media library a living space where people can get together and exchange ideas. Isn’t this a break with traditional architecture for libraries, which attempts to create a place of silence?
The interconnected mobile person of today needs mixed spaces, what we call “third spaces”. Spaces other than the home or the workplace where people can enter into communication with others to share new practices and achieve the feeling of belonging to a group. By extending its role, reducing the divide between the public and the private space, the media library is able to draw in a broad spectrum of people from all social backgrounds, without distinguishing between them on the grounds of age and gender. The Alpha media library attracts without overwhelming, intrigues but reassures and makes people want to come in. It is familiar and welcoming. It is designed as a space that people can pass through, with easy, fluid access and without constraint. In this era of mobility, working to achieve the shift in our relationships with spaces, we have provided a space of exchanges and singular experiences, a place of awakening and celebration of the five senses, a place where nature is at the heart of the building and where the interior design creates the most ideal space for unique sensorial experiences.
You refer to the Alpha media library as an “urban seamark”. What do you mean by that?
It is true that in order to fulfil its new mission, the Alpha media library departs from the typological and morphological archetypes of public cultural buildings, which remain “temples to knowledge”, and which many find too daunting to enter. The media library isn’t a building; it is effectively a connected “urban seamark” – a stack of inhabited passageways and bridges, which link up with each other again and again, physically and visually connecting the surrounding spaces and landscapes. The building is actually made up of five evolving “worlds” that are identifiable by the colour-material of the planets that are associated with them. So, the world of “creating” is anthracite in reference to Saturn and to lead. The world of “understanding” recalls the moon and silver. The world of “imagining” is represented by Jupiter and bronze. The sun and gold are to be found in the world “from one world to another”. Finally, the “worlds’ manufacturer” is red copper, paying homage to Mars.
Nature is a theme that is very important to you. Within a space like this one, which is ultra-connected, how have you approached the relationship between nature and the building?
We provide something that is complementary and different, which over and above the real performances that are intrinsic to the project vis-à-vis environmental aspects, adds a symbolic and sensitive dimension. The urban landscape is increasingly cut off from nature but it finds in the elements of life and nature a rich source of dreams and pleasure. Sunshine, air, plant life and metal are all materials used in the construction of the project. With natural ventilation, it is designed entirely to take advantage of and/or protect against the elements as the seasons change, according to each space’s exposure. On all levels, the spaces are extended outside with terraces or gardens, for indoor/outdoor living, to make the most of natural light everywhere and to open up or close off the space depending on heat levels and the amount of light necessary or desired.