This project takes place on the former premises of the French Research Institution for the exploitation of the sea (IFREMER). Left in 2000, the building, next to the port of Sète, was at the mercy of graffiti and squatters. This intervention onto a site left useless for years has promoted an exceptional place and gives a view of the town and the port in one glance, from the foot of Mont Saint Clair and the marine cemetery to the Théatre de la Mer.
The architects at C+D cleared a large part of the space in order to allow the most flexible use of the floor plan, walls, and ceilings. Purged of an unsightly extension, the building has maintained its original structure and erased the slopping roofs. The staircase has been reconfigured with modified openings and a unified façade by installing thermal insulation.
The reconverted building stretches out like a white parallelepiped and takes on the look of a modernist construction. The original building was made of any old thing, explains architect Laurent Duport, we tried to purify it as much as possible. The visit is organized in three different sequences on the same floor. A general area describes the history of the port of Sète. Another, more specific, is dedicated to the Aversa collection, displaying models showing the different stages in construction (skeleton and frame) of Catalan boats, boats from Marseille, Mourre de Pouar, tuna trawlers, and the famous model made by Gabès. The third area has been set aside to demonstrate the ancient tradition of jousting in Sète (an ancestral combat sport played on boats). Additionally, a more private room is used for multimedia purposes.