Centrally located between the River Garonne and Saint-Jean train station, the new 18,000 m2 Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine, MÉCA, brings together three regional arts agencies – FRAC for contemporary art, ALCA for cinema, literature and audiovisuals, and OARA for performing arts – into a loop, cementing the UNESCO-listed city as the epicenter for culture.
BIG and FREAKS were selected to design the new home for the region’s contemporary art and culture by the Regional Council of Bordeaux in 2012. MÉCA was inaugurated with BIG Founding Partner Bjarke Ingels, Associate Architects FREAKS, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region President Alain Rousset and the Minister of Culture Franck Riester, with the Presidents and Directors of FRAC, ALCA and OARA in attendance.
The building is conceived as a single loop of cultural institutions and public space by extruding the pavement of the promenade to become the ramp that leads into the urban living room, the façade with glimpses into the stage towers of OARA and the offices of ALCA, and the rooftop enclosing the sky-lit galleries of FRAC.
A series of steps and ramps lead the public directly into the 1,100 m2 outdoor urban room at the core of MÉCA, creating a porous institution for visitors to roam freely between the Quai de Paludate street to the river promenade. A 7m high MÉCA sign illuminates the space with white LED lights, like a modern chandelier at the scale of the urban room.
During special occasions, MÉCA’s outdoor spaces can be transformed into a stage for concerts and theatrical spectacles or an extended gallery for sculptures and other art installations. A permanent bronze sculpture depicting a half-head of Hermes by French artist Benoît Maire intersects with the entrance on the riverside, inviting visitors to reflect on the contemporary culture of the region..