“Through the loss of the economic leadership, a new sobriety. An attempt to build cultural amenities without money,” writes Éric Lapierre of his 2010 Cherbourg gallery.
To look at the Le Pont du Jour Art Center is to peer into the future of a Europe — and America, for that matter — without the capital to indulge architects with luxury materials or superficial decoration. How does it look? Well, it looks like one of the more legit pieces of architecture we’ve seen in the last few years. There’s a thoughtful use of cheap materials, interesting lines, elegant proportions, and a refreshing lack of “high-end” (read: super wasteful) details normally stuffed into bespoke architecture, clanking like so many metaphorical bangles on the arm of a shopping addict. Read on.
Rather than building a super expensive institutional building amongst a village of big box stores and McDonalds (we call that particular move “ostrich architecture”) Lapierre says he wanted the gallery to speak directly to the cheap, non-permanent materiality of the buildings that surround it:
“To achieve this goal the building is built in concrete with outer insulation and wrapped in a poor and cheap material, which is normally used to make waterproof out of sight flat roofs : sheets of asphalt protected by a thin layer of aluminum.This materiality allows the building to find naturally its proper place in these outskirts, and makes it visible with its shinny look that reflects the ever changing color of this sea side city.
All materials are raw, without any transformation : tar on the ground floor to make it perceptible that exhibitions are free, because it is a public building that gets the same floor material as the pavement in front of it, plywood, concrete. It is plasterboard free construction, as plasterboard has been created to be used by badly payed workers without « savoir faire » and not allow beautiful, simple and solid detailing.”
This is really amazing work. You can read more about the project here.