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A sports gem in Plan d’Orgon

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Designed by architect Christophe Gulizzi, the new Jean Sidoine sports complex combines poetry of forms and facility of use for sportsmen and women.

“Handball, karate... local clubs were going elsewhere, due to the lack of equipment here. That was where this plan for a sports hall came from” explains Jean-Philippe Di Vanno, director of technical services in Plan d’Orgon, (population: 2 800, Bouches-du-Rhône), a town in Provence, located close to Cavaillon. The dream is now a reality and fully equipped with aluminum joinery Profils Systèmes. Designed by architect Christophe Gulizzi, the new Jean Sidoine sports complex combines poetry of forms and facility of use for sportsmen and women. The building itself stands out with its ribbon of raw white concrete, dotted with floral motif openings.

Flora and mantillas

“The white concrete celebrates minerals and is reminiscent of whitewashed facades”, says Christophe Gulizzi. The openings on the front echo interlaced plants, bringing to mind the flora and the mantillas (light veils) of the women of Provence and worn in afternoons when the Lou Biou, the bull of Camargue is celebrated.

The floral motifs were created by the Gagneraud building company (Vitrolles). “Raw concrete is not easy to work with”, points out Jean-Philippe Di Vanno, “it had to be poured on site. The company showed an enormous amount of technical skill in creating this concept and meeting the expectations of the project managers and owners”. This is confirmed by Christophe Gulizzi: “One is never sure of success with this type of opening. A special, unique form had to be made from polystyrene, which entailed lots of discussions with the company and tests with prototypes. The fluidity and texture of the concrete had to be worked on too. It’s that kind of research that is interesting.” There were disasters too (quickly overcome), “I had to have a 20 metre wall demolished because the quality of the concrete was not satisfactory!”

Glass is placed behind the openings. Christophe Gulizzi wanted a hall where “the visual impact of aluminium is voluntarily minimised. It’s the concrete-glass couple that creates this structure”.

Two interlocking entities

Comprising two interlocking entities, the sports complex contains a dance studio, a dojo, a fitness room and a gymnasium. The first unit is located around the periphery and comprises the urban façade, 4.5 metres high, which is similar to the size of a house and is of pedestrian scale. The second unit, which contains the gymnasium, a sports hall of 1146 m², rises above this band, at a height of 8.3 metres. The project thus creates a link between public equipment, rural buildings and new, Provence-look estates.

Although the initial impact is of a mineral mass, a sliding vision is created with the change of scale. When one approaches, welcomed by the terrace and the movement of vegetation which frames the building, one realises that the massive look changes. The raw material, of telluric expression, disappears to allow access, through breaches made as if by erosion. This is circumstantial architecture, influenced by its context, both physical and cultural.

Owner: Ville de Plan d’Orgon

Floor area: 2 350 m²

Investment: 3.8 million euros

Financed by: Conseil général des Bouches-du-Rhône, municipality of Plan-d’Orgon and the Sports Ministry

Architect: Christophe Gulizzi.

Contractors: Saam (Istres), Profils Systèmes (Baillargues) and Gagneraud (structural works).

A sports gem in Plan d’Orgon

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