A highly translucent, wavelike concept by two French architecture students has won first prize at the Adelaide Creative Community Hub design competition.
Student architects Lucas Monnereau of the National School of Paris Belleville and Thomas Leblond of the National School of Paris Val-de-Seine won the competition for their ‘Creative Jungle’ concept, which proposed flexibility, ambiguity and interdisciplinary dialogue as solutions to the competition brief, to design “a space that stimulates innovation and contributes to the vibrancy which makes Adelaide one of the world’s most liveable cities”.
The Adelaide Creative Community Hub competition, organised by architecture competition organisers Bee Breeders, was left intentionally open in the hopes of inviting a broad array of concepts. Submissions were welcomed from both architects and urban planners, who were asked to design “either a temporary pavilion or fixed landmark within the recently redeveloped Victoria Square, a well-used public park”.
“The jury reviewed each entry in detail, and analysed the designs for their potential to function as places where innovation might be sparked, rather than simply exhibited; where people might come together to generate ideas, rather than simply enjoy an afternoon in a park,” says Bee Breeders.
Although members of the jury were not necessarily sold on the exterior structure and wave-form roof of the winning design, they awarded Creative Jungle the top prize for its ability to invite creative and public dialogue, and to positively contribute to the city’s street life.
Blurring the lines between outdoor space and public building, Creative Jungle features a highly translucent glass façade, which forms a sort of greenhouse around the building’s “internal forest”. The organic layout and internal volumes of the space were of particular interest to the jury. While a sunken first floor and variations in below-grade levels allow myriad sightlines from street level, a fluid arrangement of internal spaces invites multidisciplinary collaboration and interaction within the building itself.
“This project shows great potential for inviting people of all types to explore, watch, or contribute to creative production,” the jury commented. “[The jury] found the building’s transparency compelling and [able to] positively contribute to the city’s street life, the building’s openness, and the site’s ability to function as a public space.”
Not just a response to the brief, the winning concept was a manifestation of Monnereau and Leblond’s interest in what they call a “new architecture”, whose main concern is with the needs of the end user. In an interview with Bee Breeders, the student architects commented:
“The place of the user is essential to the work we try to shape together. It might seem an obvious statement but we’ve witnessed that it’s easy to get lost in other concerns and priorities when focusing on buildings. We attempt to give back to the users – people – the place they deserve in the developing process of a building.
“We’re facing many new constraints that should call for new architecture and new ways to produce it. It seems important to us, even as students, to already start questioning and approaching these new challenges. [As] architecture is made to accommodate a program for users, we want to stay away from making projects for other architects to see, and stay as close as possible to the concerns of the people who will use the building and experiment [within] the cities.”
Their driving idea for the Adelaide Creative Community Hub was for a place of “cultural mediation and knowledge exchange”. An extension of open and equitable public space, the building is intended to act as a blank canvas, capable of facilitating dialogue and exchange between a broad swathe of Adelaide’s creative population. It also gives back to the general public, as an open and highly visible extension of the Victoria Square parklands.
“This project supplies Adelaide’s creative community with a common space to fill and appropriate, like a blank page or a machine whose exact function is to be determined,” explain the architects. “Moreover, the circulation and transition areas are themselves open to multiple use: a staircase can become an auditorium, seats for a screening or a collective class. The focused environment needed for these precious and fruitful mechanisms is guaranteed overall by a protective vegetal cocoon. In echo [of] the gardens and [parks] that surround Adelaide’s city centre and allow it to breathe, inner vegetation filters the saturation of the main road and near streets.”
Four other projects were recognised as runners up in the competition: an around-the-clock, mixed-use concept from French architects Judith Busson Taridec and François Cattoni; a market village typology from Danish trio Kathrine Vand, Emil Trabjerg Jensen and Sebastian Appel; a cathedral-esque pavilion submitted by the Universidad Austral de Chile; and a research-driven, grass-and-concrete mound from Australia’s Sandbox Studio.
Six other submissions from Australia, Libya, Turkey and the United States were afforded honourable mentions.