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Media Centre Jean Falala

Reims, Cathedral Square, France

Competition won in 1997

Client: City of Reims
Enginering Facades firm: Arcora
Surface area: 6,580 sq m NSA
Cost of works: €15 M + tax
Mandate: Basic assignment and execution

The new Media Centre stands opposite the 800-year-old Reims Cathedral, a gothic masterpiece, on a site formerly occupied by the police station (architect Jean Walter, 1920) and other small buildings. The facade of the police station was retained to form part of the new building.

The harmony of this building and its integration with its surrounding buildings are achieved using the classical proportions of a square base and aligning the roof lines with the surrounding buildings: the high gable roof of the police station has been removed and is now aligned with the roof of the new building this in essence modernises its image while maintaining its familiar appearance which is an ideologw so popular with the people of Reims. The new building therefore is a natural extension of the existing volumes.

The large clear glass facades open the architecture towards the city. The immense glass windows of the facade are made possible thanks to a steel post and beam structure also constructed on the same geometrical base which holds the floors in suspension. This frame stands on a base made out of the original ‘Courville Stone’ maintaining a link with traditional materials.

The urban block is thus reformed with a degree of classical power opposite the gothic cathedral. This reconstitution follows the principle that the arrival of modern architecture on the cathedral square should not mark an architectural step change but rather a soft transformation.

From inside the Media Centre the glazed edges of its roofline ensures a clear view of the full height of the cathedral’s west front creating the foundations for an unforgettable experience. Reflections on the glass front of the Media Centre also creates the fleeting illusion of fusion between the Media Centre and the cathedral. The fusion between different ages and the interaction between shadow and light are the definning principles that arise through this projct.

Agency credits

Patrick Senné (Project director)
Frédéric Morel
Marcel David
Christel Catteau