After winning the international tender in November 2021 ahead of around fifty architecture studios from different countries, Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes from Barcelona presents the first details of the “Cité administrative” in Briançon, which is expected to be completed by 2024.
This is the project for the rehabilitation of the heritage and expansion of the historic complex of the former military barracks in Briançon, which is part of the planning of the new “ZAC Coeur de ville”, and which aims to bring together the different administrative services of the city and of the Briançonnais community of municipalities into a new, more functional centre with better accessibility for users.
“Reading the existing to understand its potential and introducing almost surgical transformations is our main strategy. In a spirit of economy of materials, processes and energy, what came before is a good to be conserved and enhanced in its double dimension as heritage: on the one hand, cultural and historical, and, on the other, material and thermodynamic” comment the architects Jordi Garcés, Daria de Seta and Anna Bonet.
The proposal for the new Cité Administrative by Garcés de Seta Bonet is framed within a perfect urban context to draw out a new identity for this old institution: open to the main square, in architectural surroundings that are highly significant for the city’s historical memory, and in continuity with the latest urban transformations in the entire area, which will soon be completed with the construction of a large park.
The project by Garcés-de Seta-Bonet Arquitectes redefines what went before while hardly touching it: the former barracks is completed with a “new head” that adds elegance and discretion at the same time. A new urban landmark, this extension aligns the complex with the Avenue du Général Barbot, showcasing its new contemporary presence to those arriving in the city.
In this perspective, the building appears with a triple-order portico, a “modern pronaos”, which ushers citizens inside the new administrative city of Briançon. The spaces’ great transparency and luminosity portray a permeable, open and welcoming institution, while the orderly and slender geometry of the structure suggests the importance and privilege of the building’s users, who have the noble and fundamental task of governing the city.
The composition of this new architecture responds to the character of the place: the use of precast concrete translates the solid stone typical of Vauban’s walls into a more contemporary language. During the day, the glass facades multiply the spectacular mountainous landscape in reflections, while, from dusk to dawn, they cast their light directly onto the square.
On the ground floor, a single-level portico runs along the façade facing the square to the existing media library, creating an ideal belt that connects the two buildings. The height itself, the rhythm of the porticos, a similar materiality, create a visual echo that resonates in the great public square and recovers the classic idea of architecture as a mediator, capable of sustaining the movement and life of its inhabitants.
The former barracks, integrated by this extension, can express its full range of qualities: the repetitive and regular structure represents the ideal container to house the offices of an administration that seeks to transmit the values of order and clarity to its citizens. Inside, the various departments are arranged in a precise sequence, like a notice board.
Reading the existing to understand its potential and introducing almost surgical transformations is the main heritage rehabilitation strategy of Garcés de Seta Bonet. In a spirit of saving materials, processes and energy, what came before is a good to be conserved and enhanced in its double dimension as heritage: on the one hand, cultural and historical, and, on the other, material and thermodynamic. Source by Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes.
- Location: Caserna Berwick, Edificio B3, Avenue du Général Barbot, Briançon, France
- Architect: Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes
- Architect in charge: Jordi Garcés, Daria de Seta, Anna Bonet
- Structure, Installations and Health and Safety: CET ingenierie
- Sustainability and Energy Efficiency: Tribú Energie
- Acoustics: Acoustique Vivié & associée
- Construction Economy: GV ingenierie
- Material Reuse: Cycle-Up
- Developer: Communauté de Communes du Briançonnais
- Surface area: 5.897 m2 (constructed)
- Year: 2022
- Images: Laurier Verdaguer, Courtesy of Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes