Congress Center of Jonzac



First, the location was selected. A hole was excavated in the limestone, a cellar open to the sky, then a cave was created, a fissured limestone karst landscape, soft steps with worn treads, then the blinding light, and a return to the caves to marvel at the organ pipe stalactites...
Combining business, cultural and leisure activities on a single site, the Haute Saintonge Congress Centre complements the range of existing facilities and represents a unique catalyst for dynamic development, both for the municipality and for all of Haute Saintonge. Created as a follow-up project to the "Les Antilles" aquatic complex which opened in 2002, a creation of Dutch architects Roelof and Nannie Hendricks, the Centre has to fulfil a number of requirements • express the dynamic nature of the region, • underline the exceptional character of a major public facility, • make use of its architectural style to represent the type of facility that is used (and will be used for decades to come) by managers of companies and organisations who choose to meet there, and • acquire a distinctive personality of its own without rivalling the iconic image of Les Antilles
While the Haute Saintonge Congress Centre has to fit into this perspective with visible long-term architectural quality, it is also important to root it firmly in its regional setting so that this spirit is conveyed to those who visit. Taking into account the sensitive features of the Val de Seugne landscape, we chose to design a building in the form of a monolith half-embedded in the valley landscape. To the south, the building's emerging frontage is revealed as a light-filled circulation gallery, culminating around the theatre, the centrepiece of the composition.

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