# STUDENTS /// The unconventional Visual Arts’ Centre by Lorène Faure & Cécile Ortolo
Using only pieces of timber, we managed to create a wooden mesh that contaminates the building, and creates a complex extension to the existing building. This use of material determined a very easy constructive solution. Indeed, by simply layering a piece of timber on top of another, and assembling them together, the mesh is easily constructed, and offers a very strong resistance to tension and compression. This mesh is all the stronger as it is connected to the old fire station, and relies on it. This timber mesh is a real urban landscape. It mutates into stairs, platforms, so that people can walk on it an atmosphere.
In order to complement this dark underground atmosphere we decided to create a skate park. Using the same pieces of timber, but assembled in a very particular way, we managed to create very smooth surfaces. These surfaces becomes devices for the skaters, such as half pipes, curbs, …Etc. A part of the ground floor is dedicated to this activity. Creating a skate park was a way to bring life into this very decayed building.
Creating a skate park wasn’t enough. The building had to attract different people, a wider audience. We therefore decided to create a museum of visual arts, in order to promote an ill-known art.
Inside, underneath the wooden mesh is a very spacious exhibition space. Artists are free to come and show their art, without any sort of regulation.
It is a space given to the artists’ community. This site used to be squatted by unknown artists, and we wanted to create a real place where they could expose their work, and get a chance to be acknowledged and recognised by society.
Besides the horizontal circulation on the open space of the ground floor are a number of staircases, sculpted into the wooden mesh, that lead you to small sculpted rooms, cocoons. From these semi-suspended spaces, you have a privileged view of the skate park.
They are sculpted in order to create seating. From each cocoon, you can attend to a visual projection (a screen is suspended from the ceiling). The project was therefore about creating small intimate pockets, from which you can enjoy the work of an artist, but most of all to bring back life into this beautiful decayed site.
We were very interested in the notion of freedom: the freedom in which the mesh is expressing itself, the artistic expressive freedom…Etc.
This notion was brought to another level when we realised that Bristol had a very important natural wildlife, particularly birds. Birds are the essence of freedom; therefore we chose to integrate them to our project. Out of the same pieces of timber, the mesh is at one part becoming a “tower”, a bird shelter.The idea was of course not to tame the birds, but to offer them a place to rest, and to integrate them better to the city, and its architecture.