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House of nature and the environment

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mission new construction – competition
client Local Authority of Saint Pierre and Miquelon
project manager CoCo architecture (agent to client), GINGER BEFS
date 2011
footprint 650m²
price 1,5M€ excl. tax
location Miquelon (975)

Saint Pierre and Miquelon are two islands situated off the coast of Canada. Their once fish-based economy is shifting its focus towards the service industry, in particular, the popularity of “eco-friendly” tourism and business retreats.

Miquelon, the largest of the islands, has a vast natural park and is only being populated by 600 inhabitants. The new house of nature and environment is to become a place of passage for the tourists arriving on the island. It will provide information and a museum tour, but also become a resource for the island’s inhabitants through educational spaces and a local craft store and bar.

The geometry and appearance must therefore be locatable and easily identifiable. Due to the modesty of scale on the island, there is no need to exaggerate its form; the architecture is primarily a passageway to the natural areas. The image of the building should be balanced, an original construction but understated, a part of the site while standing out.

The notion of a house rests at the heart of the project: the multiplication of houses, glued to one another, creates a large volume, unique and original but at a human, everyday scale.

Each house is treated like one monolithic entity, with the walls and roof covered in the same bright glazed ceramic tiles. The difference between the volumes is subtle, simply the orientation of the texture of the cladding, which vary slightly. They rest on a glass base, appearing to float.

The programmatic distribution is based around an ease of use. A large entry hall is opens up to the shop and bar, while the teaching room, situated at the edge of the building, looks out onto the town square through a large bay window. The internal layout, in response to the external aesthetic is made up of a series of simple, bare volumes. The walls and angled ceiling provide a backdrop for the museum’s artefacts. The hall and corridors are, in turn, covered with wallpaper, specially designed for the building.