The conversion of a former champagne house "Jacquart cellars" into a new cultural pole in Reims aims to fundamentally transform the building by adapting it to its new functions and its new public status. The project focuses on the strengths of the existing building: the unique spaces as basements or the main hall, the presence of raw original materials and an imposing architectural heterogeneity.
The "Jacquart cellars" as called by locals, is a symbol of Champagne-related activity in the heart of the city of Reims. For many years the production and sale of the champagne have greatly contributed to the economic development of Reims and eventually became an important element of local pride. Just as the showcases of other large champagne houses like Mumm, Veuve-Clicquot, Fournier, Jacquart, Le Cellier appears gloriously in the street with its art nouveau facade where mosaic drawings display different phases of the champagne production: from grape harvesting to the champagne distribution into the bottles.
On the contrary, the facade does not reveal the real "treasures" of the building as, for example, its three levels of underground vaults that make a part of a bigger basement network scoping far beyond the perimeter of the current property. The formal regulations regarding this kind of public establishment forbids the public access to the two lowest levels of the basement. However, it is occupied by an indoor climate system that serves to cool or heat the building by using the almost constant temperature of the basement.
The common ground
The building accommodates three different functions: education, exhibition and performance. Each of them has specific needs in terms of space occupation and frequency of the activities and visitors. These functions are subdivided into separate areas with independent accesses, but all of them revolve around the main hall - the physical and figurative heart of the project.
The variety of activities can take place independently of each other, either separated or combined. For example, when organizing bigger festivals, all of the rooms could be interconnected and would transform all of the “Le Cellier” into a massive cultural hive.
An unfinished chapter of the building
The re-appropriation of Champagne factory required some substantial physical transformations of the existing architecture in order to adapt the premises to the new functions that will take place. While no transformations were allowed on the main protected façade, the interior of the building becomes the case of a visible reconfiguration that intends to keep the new interventions recognizable and seeks to preserve the traces of demolition and reconstruction.
The intention of such an architectural sincerity is inspired by the new attitude towards the protected heritage. The building rehabilitation combines and reveals various techniques and periods of construction. The spaces vary from the large volumes, built in 1896, initially dedicated to the champagne’s trading and now used for the performance hall, to the contemporary structural interventions in order to support the existing framework.
The building does not avoid neither presenting the constituent materials, nor its technical installations. No wall are doubled unless strictly necessary for acoustic implementations. Therefore, the ceiling and the walls do not hide the utility lines as electricity cables or ventilation pipes. This is one of the important elements of the whole architectural concept, so the technical networks become a valuable part of the architecture as in any other industrial building.