TOULOUSE – When Espace Monestié, a community centre located in Plaisance-du-Touch – an outer suburb of Toulouse – needed upgrading, the task fell on the local outfit PPA. The architects quickly realised that a simple addition wouldn’t do and instead decided on a more radical approach.
Though the original complex accommodated a diverse programme, comprising a gymnasium, fitness space, a youth centre and a projection room, it lacked overall coherence. ‘There was no link between the various entities, no communal space or even a unified outside envelope,’ the architects stated/
The substantial extension saw an addition to the original building containing extra screening rooms, as well as two more multifunctional halls. An annexe, containing a restaurant and a small theatre space was erected besides the main space. The courtyard between them was covered with a transparent factory roof. Inside, the architects have continued the industrial detailing with straightforward, unpretentious finishes from corrugated metal, plywood, white render and exposed ceiling constructions.
As a unifying touch, the buildings were wrapped in a skin of polished, corrugated aluminium. In an almost literal reading of Venturi’s decorated shed typology, a translucent billboard fronts the building, announcing the various offerings inside. All the functions open up towards the courtyard, which becomes a lively open heart of the ensemble and serves to balance the otherwise impenetrable silvery perimeter.
Photos Philippe Ruault