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Textille Centre, Wazemmes

Part 1 Project 2010
Sam Rigby
University of Kent | UK
Textilille - Textile Centre, Wazemmes, Lille

The site, acting as a corner point of a pivotal axis route within Lille allows for a break in the post industrial urban fabric that exists. By creating a public space that is somewhat distant from such a gridded rationality, you can create a barrier which at the same time invites people through inquisitiveness, into a space that is its own entity.

The design questions and rethinks the neutrality of the white cube as a means of viewing art, whereby a correspondence is achieved between the architecture, what lies within and those viewing it. The underlying idea was to emulate the notion of the loom through the use of a structural expressionalism wherby both individual and large elements allow for imbalance and tension that are themselves held together and exist by their own variability.

The use of changing gradients, where the primary Glu Laminated Timber structure rises from the ground, creates an external visual identity, rhythm and fluidity.

The scheme's planning was designed as a individual solution to pragmatic questions that are defined by the movement of the users, which allow for variable length vistas that open and close gradually, creating an internal journey of space.

Sam Rigby


This final Part 1 project was set in Lille, France’s 4th largest conurbation, whose school of architecture has a reciprocal teaching relationship with KSA. Briefing by Lille school staff deepened students’ understanding of the site context – a disused single storey supermarket shed, on the corner of an urban bloc in the outer-central, mixed commercial quartier of Wazemmes.

The previously white working class district now has a more complex identity, being the area of choice for a wide range of immigrant communities, within a largely re-invented city region that replaced coal, steel, and manufacture, with financial and other services, and with the underpinning of Eurostar, has become the major regional hub.

The brief called for approximately 3.500 sqm of accommodation on a 4000 sqm site, consisting of large and medium scale galleries for the history of textile machinery and design, with archives, education spaces, and artist in residence workshops with apartments, exploring new themes in textiles, along with the usual shops, café, administration offices and service spaces.

Sam Rigby’s building employs an industrial shed expressed structure vocabulary, and scale, as its tectonic link to the programme and cultural history. The programme is accommodated in two large interconnected volumes with exposed glulam ribs, and a discrete third volume in a different tectonic, with little expressed structure. The large volumes are enveloped in a simple continuous skin, modulating from glazing, to louvres, to solid panel.

The potential clash with the small to medium scale existing urban grain, and the need for internal segregations, is successfully managed through the use of a joggled, refracted and dislocated grid, which set up within their complex, elegant and flowing geometries, a range of internal and external scales, nodes and permeabilities. The complex skin further filters and mediates the relationship between in and out, user and context.

The structural solution for the frame systems is well developed, and climate, sustainability, and other technical requirements are integrated and illustrated well. The end-condition of the linear shells is also well resolved.

Generally the presentation is of a high standard, fusing organic manually generated morphology with well-controlled use of parametrics in high-level graphics, displaying intriguing sfumato effects alongside skilled technical dissections.

Dr Gerald Adler

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