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reMEMORE: Archive center – Euregional Prize for Architecture

Maxime Faniel, Romain Toussaint

reMEMORE: Archive center is the graduation project by Maxime Faniel and Romain Toussaint (ULg Liège). The project deals with the modernist heritage by teasuring it and giving it a new meaning. reMEMORE: Archive center won the first prize in the 25th edition of the Euregional Prize for Architecture.

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The archives centre take place in an old department store, part of the complex of the Cité Administrative, from 1967, in a historic district of Liège. As a project full of collective memory, it is expressed as a strongbox, entirely made of concrete. The building has a lot of fundamental qualities for this programme: compacity, goods lift, structural rationnality, robustness and central position in the city.

The space is organized horizontally: in the basement, a conference room and an educational space, a public ground floor, three floors of archives, then come the reading space and the administration space. The rehabilitation is minimalist. From the street, the building keeps its form. Inside, the structure is exposed and the new
interventions seem to float in the space. The major intervention is the creation of a monumental atrium in the heart of the building, bringing light to the ground floor. It organizes all the space and separates the public circulation, in the atrium, from the documents circulation. In this way, the atrium is the perfect place for the symbolic expression of the world of the archives and remind the Escaliers de Buren, nearby.

With this contemplative walk, the user goes throught the floors of archives boxes without reaching it, methaphor of immersion into memory that we can imagine but not touch.The preciosity and the partition of the boxes are expressed by their texture. The visitor can nevertheless see the life of the laboratories and the workshops. The intern life is also perceptible from the street due to the gap between the archives boxes and the facade. This gap also creates peripheric circulation for the staff.

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From the jury rapport:
“This project represent a very important future task for architects. It deals with the urban tissue by making new connections between parts of the city, it deals with big modernistic buildings that are out of use, and with the memory of the city.[…]The original construction is used to make a spectacular atrium. The ground floor is opens up to make new connections and on the roof a new construction let light in from above. On the top floor the most public rooms of the archive are situated. Walking to the top floor on the grand staircase passing the archive rooms will lead to a sacred experience: walking to the light, up to the knowledge.
The project is very complete and mature; it takes care of the urban problems as well as technical problems.

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