The multifunctional sports and entertainment venue designed by Hérault Arnod Architects forms a distorted unitary volume, enveloping three main venues and other facilities, in Laval, France.
Called Espace Mayenne, the 15,100 square meter building is a multifunctional facility made up of a large sports and entertainment hall with 4,500 seats, a gymnasium, a conference room and a wall of indoor climbing for international competitions.
Located in a former military site bordering the French city of Laval, along the D900 urban ring road, the building is envisioned as a single volume that features distorted surfaces to refer to “fluidity, unity and movement”.
In addition to these three main locations; sports and entertainment halls, gymnasium and conference room, the building includes other spaces, such as partner lounges designed as modular rooms to receive guests during games or shows, as well as offices and changing rooms for artists and athletes.
A 670-space car park is also provided outside the building, as well as a landscaped area, with a 250-meter long cycle track for national competitions incorporating a training track in its center.
Due to the introverted skin of the building, the building does not give a clear message about the functions it contains. It is distinguished by a completely singular, clean and continuous facade.
Referring to the contextual elements of the site, the studio began the design process with an urban and landscape study aimed at defining guidelines for the future development of this site in accordance with the framework of the new Ferrié district.
“It is a changing territory, crucial for the revitalization of the city,” says Hérault Arnod Architectes, a Parisian architecture firm founded in the early 1990s in Grenoble by Yves Arnod and Isabel Hérault.
“The organization of the building respects the landscape structure and the memory of the site, combining ecology, compactness, economy of means, and the creation of a master plan preserving the plots for future programs.”
“The landscape heritage of the site is remarkable”, according to the studio.
“It is made up of a natural space – marshes, woods and wet meadows – and an old bocage frame with sculptural trees and sunken paths, all entirely preserved.”
Based on these parameters, the workshop created an east-west pedestrian-cycling path to structure the site, crossing the public car park and the wetland, before widening in front of the building into an entrance square.
To minimize the intervention on the ground and create an optimization of the geometry of the building, the building is designed as a unit volume that envelops the three places in a single movement.
The organic aspect of the building derives from its conceptual aspects. “It is less a gesture of design than the consequence of a process which articulates the three halls on a singular landscape”, adds the studio.
The facade is designed as a singular skin wrapping around the rooms, resulting in a moving shape that constantly changes depending on the point of view.
To form this undulating geometry, the workshop horizontally superimposes three superimposed bands which deform in order to wrap the volumes as closely as possible.
Looking down from the top, these three ribbons can be seen to overlap and revolve around the building, representing “fluidity, unity and movement”.
“Together, they create a flexible plan covering the full height of the building and sometimes rising at certain points to reveal glazed facades,” adds the firm.
“Its complex shape is subdivided into simple, identical geometric elements allowing rational construction using textured aluminum plates.”
The lobby is designed in the interstitial space between the three main locations. The design of the reception hall allows a fluid circulation of the different flows of public according to different scenarios of occupation – the three places can be used at the same time or not.
The lobby is characterized by its volume in the shape of an inverted conch and its acoustic ceiling in wooden planks. The building has two ground floors and is organized in such a way that the different types of flow – public, athletes, technicians, artists, staff and partners – are clearly separated.
The large sports and entertainment hall
To meet multiple uses, the studio has designed functional organizations with a high level of flexibility.
The design of the large hall is quite flexible and can be used for different purposes, such as performances, concerts as well as sports games.
“While sporting events require an arena system where spectators are seated all around the field, concerts and shows require a front-end system with a stage,” the studio said.
“The room is asymmetrical with a large balcony on one side, which allows the installation of a stage on the long north side, thus reducing the distance between the artists and the public.”
By adding curtains diagonally inside, the curtains can be drawn to transform the arena configuration into a trapezoid that flares out from the stage frame. In the configuration for sporting events, the field is tightly surrounded by a bleacher arena.
“The technical treatment of this room has been designed so that it can quickly switch from one configuration to another: the space is completely transformed depending on the program”, continues the studio.
“The design of the walls, alternating raw white concrete and wool felt, was developed in collaboration with acousticians.”
The studio has also designed these zones to be very effective for sound absorption, reverberation or a mixture of both.
To achieve this, the company used corrugated raw concrete to evenly distribute the sound in the space, strips of concrete alternating with strips of wool felt for mixed areas, stretched wool felt with an acoustic mat for absorbent areas, behind the bleachers.
Suspended panels of wool felt were designed for the ceiling, creating an airy geometric pattern. A vast technical grid hides behind them, allowing a great flexibility of equipment and scenic arrangements.
Upper Level Floor Plan
Second floor plan – balcony
Partial section – large hall access
Detailed section – facade and roof of the hall
Exploded axonometric drawing
Name of the project: Mayenne area
Architects: Herault Arnod Architects
Location: Laval, France
Customer: Mayenne Departmental Council
Group project: Hérault Arnod Architectures, studies and project management
Study team: Mickael Dusson and Jérôme Moenne-Loccoz, project managers, with Thomas Féraud, Paola Figueroa, Rana Abi Ghanem
Execution team: Florent Bellet, project manager, with Arnaud Gilet.
The partners: Inex, hvac; Batiserf, structure; BMF, economy; Canards Scéno, scenography; Lasa, acoustics; Sempervirens, landscape; B3i, roads and public services; Gérard Plénacoste, graphic designer; Hervé Audibert, outdoor lighting.
All images © Cyrille Weiner
All drawings © Hérault Arnod Architectes.
> via Hérault Arnod Architectes
Herault Arnod Architects