Istres (FR)

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Istres (FR)

Scale L & S, urban and architectural
Team representative architect, urbanist, landscape architect
Location Istres - Bouches- du-Rhône (13)
Population city: 43,133 inhab.; Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence: 1,895,600 inhab .
Strategic site 20 ha - Project site 12 ha

Site proposed by ville d’Istres
Actors involved ville d’Istres, Métropole Aix-Marseille- Provence
Owner(s) of the site ville d’Istres

Commission after competition Urban and architectural feasibility study and/or architectural contract

More Information

Urban City Strategy

Istres is a town in the recently created metropolitan area of Aix-Marseille-Provence (AMP); it was originally an old Provencal village looking down over the lagoon, Étang de Berre. During the end of the 20th century, Istres saw its population grow considerably under the auspices of a new town that spread out like a blanket, with a new town centre and residential areas (clusters of houses, small buildings, etc.), but also with a large number of public amenities, among which the ECC. The town wants to find a new use for the ECC’s ‘Alain Savary’ secondary school, which is going to move elsewhere, to preserve its experimental and working-class character through a project of a ‘third place’, a collective place, for learning. What is more, the ECC is soon to benefit from the construction of a new multimedia library and the installation of a ‘Maison de l’Energie’ energy centre. Down the slope on the banks of the lagoon, a project to renovate the marina is underway, with a maritime shuttle to provide a fast link to Marseille-Provence airport, thereby opening up the town.

Site Definition

‘Les Heures Claires’ educational and cultural centre (ECC) is located in the South of France, in the city of Istres, which has a population of nearly 43500 inhabitants. Benefiting from its proximity to the agglomerations of Aix and Marseille, Istres is today part of a region strongly marked by the establishment of industrial-port sites and constitutes the center of a life basin still relatively autonomous from the rest of the department, both economically and in terms of services and facilities.

How Must Metabolism and Inclusivity Be Developped and Connected?

‘Les Heures Claires’ educational and cultural centre (ECC) was built in the 1970s by Atelier de Montrouge, with ideas of sharing, of collective reflection and of embracing multi-disciplinary collaboration. The ECC has been listed as 20th-century heritage. The Istres educational and cultural centre ‘Les Heures Claires’ is also part of the dynamic of development of the industrial area of Fos-sur-Mer and the large-scale influx of workers. Today, the ECC houses an ‘open school’, arts and sports amenities, a music school, a multimedia library, a dance school, around a tree-lined avenue ending in a terrace and belvedere looking over the Étang de Berre lagoon.
It is a matter of questioning the place of the CEC in the urban landscape and in contemporary lifestyles. Guided by a certain idea of utopia, it is possible to question today the innovative architecture of the Atelier de Montrouge, by rediscovering the virtues of modular, evolutive and adaptable architecture. The relocation of the college will enable a reflection on this 20th century architecture, and to test its possible reinvention.
Based on the idea that relationships between art, sport and education constitute the basis of a society that is more fair and more open, the ECC today needs to rekindle its utopian dimension and build on what is the force of the site, sharing and collaboration, education and creation, while also clarifying its position within contemporary transitions (digital, anthropocene, participative democracy, communal, etc.)

Questions on the site

Coming soon...

This site is connected to the following theme

Dealing with New Uses

Care is about recognizing the vulnerability of our living milieu. It is about finding new design ways to pay attention to marginalized, hurt, or ignored areas and help to repair them.
These sites have available building stock at the end of their first or second life cycles. The sites lack strategic uses that could support the transition of the building stock to another life cycle. it is crucial to take care of relations between the uses, the inhabitants, and the building stock itself.

Specific documents

Questions on the site

Fr. 18 June 2021
Deadline for submitting questions

Fr. 2 July 2021
Deadline for answers

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Aerial view with the study site
Aerial view of the study site in red and the project site in yellow
View of the Etang de Berre from the CEC cafeteria
Green patio in the Alain Savary school
Entrance of the Alain Savary school
Central mail of the CEC