A landmark of the aeronautical adventure, the Montaudran site has left a strong mark on the landscape and in our memories. The new exhibition hall, conceived to house gigantic mechanic creations, is therefore a study of the transmission and cultural identity.
In front of the old runway, the Hall develops in streamlined volumes, the height of the spans and the receding lines of the roof creating a sensation of flying and reminding us of the historical dialogue between architecture and aviation. The ground plane is based on a noticeably irregular outline, which delineates four vessels, parallel to the runway and with a mezzanine on top to the east. The exhibition aisles are characterised by the very small base of the filigree structure’s columns: this vast, free plan, ideal for the creation and exhibition of machines, encourages contemplation and perambulation. To this effect, the structure’s clear expression is highlighted by the tight rhythm of the wooden trusses and the bolted joints which make the relationship between load and support explicit. The elegance and the technical nature of the structure thus echo the spectacle of monumental machines. This link between the envelope and its content is also reminiscent of the aeroplane assembly halls, whose audacity marked France between the wars. This direct heritage is further reinforced by the installation of shed windows running between the faults in the roof, and the creation of raw mineral flooring.
From the outside, the architecture conceals this world of machines as much as it reveals it, stages it and preserves it. To this effect, a ribbon of perforated or full steel sheeting dresses the lower half of the glass panels and obscures the view of the pieces, which become objects of curiosity. From the various viewpoints that the site offers, the rhythms of the framework eventually take on a new dimension. The routes around the site develop different perspectives, uncover the strata of the architecture and highlight the kinetic nature of the roof lines. So, the glass spans define precise views on the machine-works and their background marked by the aeronautical heritage and green foliage. The site can be understood as it is hiding within the architecture’s gaps, and the visitor’s curiosity is constantly awakened. Through this porosity with its context, the hall places the visitor in a world of feelings, memories and dreams – precisely the world that the exhibited machines show.
The creation of a crystalline volume means the strict management of sunlight is necessary. The dimensions of the roof strips projected to the south, the east and the west are determined with regards to the movement of the sun, so as to guarantee optimal sunlight in winter and to restrict it in the summer. The architecture’s impact on its environment and the temperature of the indoor spaces are therefore controlled. Light is either allowed in, stopped or transmitted through filters. The opening shed windows allow natural ventilation and, when combined with brise-soleil, stop the hall from heating up.