The Cnac

Brownfields + Cultural

The Cnac



Project managementOPPIC
Surface4 300 m2
Cost 5 200 000 € HT
Project managementAgent Architect: Caractére spécial
Associate Architect: NP2F
Scenography: DUCKS Sceno
BET Structure: DVVD
Economy: VPEAS
Acoustics: IGETEC
Lighting: Studio Lights
Photographic CreditsMANQUILLET, Sébastien NORMAND

Extension and rehabilitation of the CNAC on the silos site in Châlons-en-Champagne.

The CNAC has occupied the silo site in Châlons-en-Champagne since the Coopérative Agricole Marnaise had to cease its activity for safety reasons as the grain silos were located too close to a busy road bypassing the town (RN3).

An architectural competition relating to the extension and rehabilitation of the CNAC on the same site was launched by the OPPIC (delegated contracting authority of the Ministry of Culture and Communication).
The team, led by an Caractère Spécialassociate of NP2F architects, has been designated winner of this competition in JUNE 2011.

The issues at stake in the redeployment of the Silos site are multiples :
- To develop an international "image", an emblematic building that lives up to the reputation and ambitions of the CNAC,
- To integrate into a sparsely populated urban fabric, with low volumes, on a former agricultural site, and thus give an urban image to this agricultural site,
- To generate a strong identity from the banks for pedestrians, and an entrance to the city for road users from the RN3,
- To respond to a multiplicity of existing uses and those to be invented by users.

The project proposed by Caractère Spécial+ NP2F is both architecturally strong and flexible in its operation.


" Le circus is a small, enclosed arena, fit for oblivion. »


But also to travel and escape and imagination, to poetry and boundary crossing, and magic, the circus is the only place where life is beautiful.
A circus school is a school of life.
To give a framework, to give limits to be able to break free from them.
A canal, a grey sky, bird noises, trucks in the sky, hangars of an old farm property left behind.
They have the beauty of the brutality for which they were built and the time that ran over them.
The tents here are white. No frills, no fuss, we go to the essentials, we tell the truth so as not to show it, the flowers smell good, and the manure stinks. That's the way it is!
The substance is the form or rather it is the energy that creates the form and not the form that creates the energy.

It is perfect this site of farm sheds to host a circus school because basically they say the same thing. You can't cheat, you can't, you sweat, you scream, you suffer to enchant and you start again and again, you improve, you refine, you modify, you move forward. A circus show is never over.
Neither is life, so why should our project be over-il ?

So we continue the story, we keep all the buildings so that they become something else, the same thing, or nothing at all, destroying them would be useless.
Who knows what tomorrow will be fait ?
We add, excavate, dig, raise, plane, enlarge, open according to use.

And we let ourselves get caught to get out of the gangue.
One roof can become a belvedere, another will be opened to let lumière  in; the whole will form a unique built piece. Each place will be linked to the other while preserving its autonomy.
They will offer themselves to a garden made of the already existing residual elements. The administrative building, the stables, the workshop, the marquee, the national how can we forget it, but also on a ground where the ground will be worked either by mineral coating or by short plants which will compose a soil, but also by a park of trees with high stems perfectly delimited and planted on a 7 x 7 grid. Those will be mixed with apparatus, so that there again the unexpected is at the corner of the wood.
That's life; you have to believe in its mirages, it's the only way to avoid disappointment.