Road to Méca

BIG Architects' new Méca building in Bordeaux, France, allows for cultural interactions and enjoyment in a public urban space.

From the Series

A curious thing about cultural institutions is that it often happens that only those that already have an interest in the arts benefit from its existence, muses Bjarke Ingels.

But with the design of the new Méca (Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine) in Bordeaux, France, BIG Architects, together with Paris-based FREAKS freearchitects, challenges this limited use of architectural space.

BIG recently won a competition to design a new 12 000m2 cultural centre on the historical Bordeaux riverfront, essentially merging three different cultural institutions into one building.

A public space that opens towards the city of Bordeaux forms the foundation of BIG’s design, arranging the new centre for contemporary art, peforming arts and the centre for literature and movies around this public space.

The design allows the three cultural agencies to occupy a large, open-air space that functions like an outdoor “urban room” and that can be used as a performance stage, screening room and public space.

Like much of the city, the Méca is clad in limestone, and aims to encourage interaction, community and simply spending more time outdoors.

Says Ingels of the project: “By inviting the art into the city and the city into the arts, the Méca will provide opportunities for new hybrids of cultural and social life beyond the specific definitions of its constituent parts.”

Watch the Talk with Bjarke Ingels