As France's leading port for passenger traffic and a major cargo port, Calais is benefiting from a strong increase in activity. In order to respond to the constraints induced by this increase, as well as by the size of the new generation of ships, an ambitious plan to extend the port has been launched: Port Calais 2015. This new port is made up of a vast basin, protected by a 3.2 km long dyke, with a new esplanade supporting multiple services.
A major reception point, a real entrance to the city, the port and all its facilities constitute the first contact with the city of Calais. As such, the qualities of reception and image are of particular importance.
It is in this context that the new harbour master's office is being built, at the junction of the existing port and its extension, whose lookout is 38 metres high. This essential maritime traffic management structure acquires a status that goes far beyond its functional role. Visible from the sea as much as from the town and the beaches, it is the sign and symbol of a port in full expansion, and asserts itself as an emblem for a town in movement.
It is the history of the rich and diverse heritage of the port city of Calais that we choose to highlight.
Two devices are implemented:
-The first, formal, consists in the visual fragmentation of the building.
Each volume, through its relative autonomy, can thus become the support of a specific narrative. Like pebbles balanced one on top of the other, this work is built up by accumulation, by stratification of narratives contained in simple geometric forms.
-The second device consists in assigning a texture, a materiality to each of them in order to reinforce their expressive and narrative capacity. The economic, maritime and geological heritage of Calais is called upon.
Each volume of the harbour master's office thus asserts itself as a witness to a territory, to its history.
Each fragment of the building is the witness of a heritage :
Representative of the local excellence: the lace. The harbour master's office thus expresses this diversity of heritage.
Through its port, Calais has long been open to the to the North Sea and to distant horizons. The maritime map and the imagination it conveys are symbols of this.
The cliffs of the two capes impose their presence on the landscape. The stratification of the base echoes that of the cliffs.