Arles Tourist Office

Offices + Equipment

Arles Tourist Office

Tourist Office - ARLES 13

Construction of the Arles tourist office, development of the surroundings and enhancement of the archaeological excavations.

Project managementCity of Arles, MOA : AREA PACA
Surface1 500 m2
Cost 5 300 000 € HT
Project managementAgent Architect: Caractére spécial
BET Structure: AR-C
BET Fluids / LIFE: B52
Building economics: R2M
ACOUSTICS : Acoustics and Consulting
SSI : Agibat
Photographic Credits3D : FOZR


The proposed project is an expression of the successive layers of development of the Charles De Gaule esplanade, and it is impossible to build a tourist office here without it taking the full measure of the ancient soil that bears it. Our project sets a reference level which will be the level of the esplanade. The base of the project, at the level of the ancient excavations, made of concrete excavated in places, suggests the mass and the character of foundation (founder) of the Arlesian soil. As the imposed layout template reveals a gap between the low and high façades, we have chosen to concentrate all the programmes in the alignment of the high façade, i.e. towards the bottom of the plot. This radical choice makes it possible to group the majority of the program in the open space and not on the esplanade whose structure would have to be reinterpreted. Then, the reception areas and their accesses, come to pick up the visitors as close as possible to the ancient city.

The Arles Tourist Office is not only that of the city but also that of the whole Camargue. It is the one of the capital of Provence. It is a building which does not speak to itself, which stops looking at itself, but which offers itself in totality. Its material is that of its country: the wind, the time, the stone, the light to welcome the bulls, the horses, the birds sticks sometimes called flamingos, the reeds, the birds, the canes, the salt, the sea, the river, the perfumes; but also the people.It is not a building but a door to the whole of Provence.this place must not speak for nothing.this place is wild and uncertain.this place is infinite, deep and absolutely infinite.

There is no room for style, mannerism, gesticulation, coquetry or coterie. There is no room for pretense, we are not hiding here, or badly, we are one body, we listen, feel and keep silent. There is nothing to be done, it is just the opposite, we must show what this city and its nature are! What architect could say that his signature is more powerful than that of the elements. There are moments, probably all of them in fact, when the architect's ego has to disappear so that only consciousness and obviousness appear.

How can we talk about wind, use and time? how can we talk about shadows, suggestion and the horizon? It is only a portico structure that gives rhythm to the view and sequences the movement to support the required uses. It's a bit like a fisherman's or hunter's hut, how is it that a hut gives infinitely more pleasure than any building of contemporary architecture? Perhaps because you feel like an actor with the hut and not just a spectator. Maybe because the hut says the essential; maybe because everything speaks of the intelligence with which it was designed, maybe because the ego does not exist in a hut.
This project is first of all a project that says what is, that shows how it was built, that protects from the sun with white canvases along the wooden structures, that offers the story of the shadows, that shows the natural path in space and time. We enter the reception area, in the present, then we go down into the remains of the past, to come out into the public space.
It is a living, moving and indomitable architecture.

So be it!

Matthieu POITEVIN.