Sponsored by La Region Occitanie, the project of La Cité consists in the renovation of the historic site of Les Halles Latétoère, in order to create a third-place dedicated to collaborative and sustainable innovation. La Cité hosts several public and private services devoted to young start-ups, such as Ad’Occ, At Home, Nubbō and Roselab.
The project is located in the South-East of Toulouse, in the suburb of Montaudran, next to the railway running along the protected historic runway of the Aéropostale. The building itself is registered as heritage of the aeronautical industrial history of Toulouse.
Built between 1917 and 1918 by the industrial pioneer Pierre-Georges Latécoère, Les Halles Latécoère witnessed the origin of the industrialization of the aeronautic sector in Toulouse. Since World War I, the factory is located on the Northern side of this 45-ha aeronautic site, spread along the railway connecting Toulouse to Sète. The runway and maintenance buildings were located on the South side. The three halls of Les Halles Latécoère housed the first aeronautic production in Toulouse. Originally built for the rail industry, then quickly shifted to aeronautic purposes, the site was used to produce military aircrafts and, after World War I, commercial and Aéropostale planes. Despite its fame, the Aéropostale was facing financial difficulties until it was bought by Air France in 1933. The Aéropostale line was thus maintained up to World War II. In 1940, the site of Montaudran is sold by Pierre-Georges Latécoère, who was associated to the plane maker Louis Bréguet since 1939. The building and a portion of the production were destroyed by Allied bombing on April 6 1944, leaving only the structure. Louis Bréguet rebuilt and expanded the site so as to produce bomber aircraft and then till the seventies.
The perimeter of our intervention included the three historic halls of the Latécoère factory, along with several warehouses and canopies, plus a disused area at the Eastern side. The terrain has an area of 19 628 m2. In spite of the destruction of 1944 and the remodelling in subsequent years, the site is generally well preserved and still presents remarkable features, such as the three main halls which have been designated as an historic monument since July 21 1997. Given their composition and imposing volumes, they constitute a monumental ensemble.
There are also several other listed elements: the passengers’ lounge building, the runway in its current layout spanning from the North West of the site to the South East of the management building, called the Chateau Petit Espinet Raynal, also classified for its façade, roof and left wing. At a wider scale, the site is located in an area undergoing development. The direct environment of the site is constituted of residential areas, and logistic and industrial activities. At its Southern border, it reaches the university and scientific complex of Rangueil, gathering more than 35 000 students and teachers.
The project of La Cité is concentrated mostly inside of Les Halles Latécoère and is composed of the three historic halls which are 120 meters long and 26 meters wide. Each nave has a soil floor surface of 3082 m2, meaning a total of 9246 m2 for the three naves.
Since La Région Occitanie bought the South East neighbouring plot, the access points to La Cité have been doubled. The access on the North East façade is maintained and a new access is created on the South East façade. La Cité and its 12 698 m2 is composed of co-working spaces, meeting rooms, a 200-seats conference room, a restaurant, a Fablab and a large space for events. Due to the sector dynamism and the needs for additional activities to consolidate this new infrastructure, we suggested a global vision of La Cité, encompassing the whole site. Just like the innovative structures that it shelters, La Cité has to anticipate the future evolutions of its surrounding spaces so as to lead its development. In this regard, the project required the renovation of the historic Halles shell. The three production halls were gradually transformed since their original construction in 1917, with the renovation lead by Louis Bréguet after the bombardment in 1944, the transformation into warehouses for Air France and subsequently the conversion into a factory for U.T.L. from 1960 to 1990. Our project took into account all these successive changes in order to offer a continuity with its passed evolutions.
The longest state of transformation in the history of the building was in its second form, lasting from 1945 to 1953. As the current state still bears signs of that era, the current renovation project refers principally to that era. Also, with the idea of revealing the history of the building, the project also refers to its original state (1917), while complying to the needs of today’s program. The transformations are mostly focused on the roofs (framework and covering), the façades and interior features (brick pillars and rolling bridges).
The metal awnings and contiguous warehouses have been demolished to open up the historic façades and offer new openings toward the building. The docks have been preserved and converted into an open terrace. The project aims to highlight the existing building, showcasing the halls’ structure with new additions built as light structures from the floor up and with as little contact as possible with the existing construction.