Transformation of a modern church
The Sacré Coeur, built by Claude Fay at the end of the fifties for the parish of Ugine, was acquired in 2003 by the municipality from the Diocese of Annecy. It had been mutually agreed between the two parties that this place should from now on host an activity with a cultural or social vocation. The study of its history quickly reveals, on the one hand, an exemplary and innovative work, carried out by an architect whose modernity was deeply rooted in this Savoyard territory and, on the other hand, an ambitious and determined project manager. The most visible aspects are certainly the simplicity and the clarity of the structure, which seeks above all the economy of material, the use of a single formwork for the casting of the seven portals or the stained-glass window covering the southern facade, whose frame, which seems prefabricated, is only the clever use of chimney bushels. All of these materials are also came from a geographical area contained within a radius of one hundred kilometers.
Looking for a starting point for the project approach and as to avoid the fundamental question, we first pay particular attention to the dialogue between the building and its now urban context. Thus, the unrestrained opening of the lower part of the south façade is for us the gesture that initiates all the others and that will be the only one to have such a direct and irreversible impact. An invitation, as a way of bringing the street into the building. The nave, for its part, is dedicated as a whole to an exhibition space focused on contemporary art, the quality of which should guarantee a resonance on the scale of the commune and the Region. To the west, the sacristy now fulfils the role of workshop, and houses the spaces serving the great hall. Between them, a gap has been created and becomes the entrance to the centre. The purpose is to modify the historical and classical functioning of the church.
Finally, the original oversizing of the concrete gates is exploited to create a suspended volume. It is a framework whose apparent massiveness contrasts with the delicacy of the wooden elements that constitute it. It houses all the technical equipment related in particular to museum lighting and heating.Each of its modules has been covered with a stretched cotton canvas. The materiality of the fabric carries within it a warmer, even domestic dimension. The composition allows the existing acoustics to be mastered and offers great freedom of display and modulation of the exhibition area, via a set of elements suspended from grooved rails on the underside.