Hangar Y is originally a hangar for the first airships in the late nineteenth century. It is made of reused metal gantries of the Paris World Exhibition in 1889 and designed by the architect Henri de Dion. Its volume is 70 meters long by 24 meters wide by 26 meters high, with a large central nave to house the airships, and two side aisles. Located in an exceptional woody site of 7 hectares around the basin of Chalais, the building has been classified as a historical monument since 2000.
The project is developed for Art Explora and Culture&Patrimoine by DATA Architectes (new interventions) and Daniel Lefebvre, Chief Architect of Historic Monuments (refurbishment).
As the south facade, made of bricks, was restored, DATA fulfilled the lack of facade on the north side, originally empty to allow airships entering the building. The design is resolutely contemporary: as a gigantic transparent screen, it provides a beautiful diffuse light from the north. The use of steel and glass reminds the existing gantries and emphasizes the lightness of the structure.
The compositional lines of the new facade are articulated with ones of existing building. A large singular oculus in the heart of the facade softens the orthogonal cutting of glass elements. It recalls, like a ghost of the nineteenth century, the nose of airships housed in the nave. Barely perceptible when closed, monumental doors are inserted in this new screen. When opened, that doors allow the passage of monumental works and exceptional events. The nave, totally freed, is a flexible space that hosts ambitious and various uses. For more private areas, two mezzanines are installed in the side aisles and also offer free spaces for the foundation's exhibitions.