Espace Mayenne, a multifunctional sports and entertainment venue was designed by Hérault Arnod Architectures in Laval, France. It is encased in a curved, twisting shell of textured aluminium plates.
The project, which is located on a former military site, is part of a larger plan to develop an area on the northwestern outskirts of Laval. It also includes a 250-meter-long outdoor velodrome and landscaping of the surrounding wetland and woodland.
Hérault Arnod Architectures drew inspiration for Espace Mayenne from the rapidly changing natural environment. Consequently, it helped create a flowing, organic form that appears to change with the angle from which it is viewed. The plan of the building respects the landscape structure and the memory of the site. Thus, it unites ecology, compactness, the economy of means, and the creation of a mass plan that saves parcels for future plans.”
The Espace Mayenne design
Espace Mayenne combines three venues: a gymnasium with a climbing wall, a conference hall, and a stadium-like space. The space can also be easily changed to fit sports games or concerts. Two atrium areas on the lower ground and ground floors connect the three venues. It also separates entry routes for technicians, staff and artists, and public audiences.
The ground floor atrium wraps around the southern side of the building. This helps it open up to the landscape, with a ceiling of pale timber slats that follow the flowing form of the outer side. “[The lobby’s] organization allows for a fluid circulation of different public flows based on various scenarios of occupation – the three venues can be in use at the same time or not,” the practice explained.
The Grand Hall, the largest space, is designed to be easily changed from a sports arena layout. Consequently, it has bleacher seating around its perimeter to a performance layout with a stage along its northern edge framed by diagonal curtains.
The exterior design
Together with acoustic designers Sempervirens, a variety of wall finishes for the hall were designed. They include corrugated concrete and wool-felt wall finishes. This is as well as hundreds of small wool felt panels set in a geometric pattern on the ceiling.
A skin of aluminium panels with three horizontal bands of different textures surrounds the building on the outer side. The panels sit above a wood-clad base and move downwards to cover the outer wall to the west.
“The facade wraps itself around the rooms like a skin. Thus, they result in a moving shape that constantly changes depending on the viewpoint. It is also made up of three horizontally stacked stripes. They consequently deform to envelop the volumes as tightly as possible,” it was explained.[They] overlap and rotate around the structure, creating fluidity, unity, and movement.” Other recently completed sports facilities include SPF Architects’ pre-engineered, metal-clad Obama Sports Complex in Los Angeles and Quintanilla Arquitectos’ Cárdenas sports complex and skate park in Mexico.