Alexandra Marion & Nicolas Sougnez

Alexandra Marion & Nicolas Sougnez

ESAGAC. ULg Liège (Belgium)

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Conversion of the former Société Générale de Banque (Paul Hayot & Michel Serret, 1975), Charleroi. This international-style building inaugurated in 1975 presents the originality of stacking a hotel program on the bank. Its location on the main boulevard of the city and its large free-plan floors are its main assets. However, the lack of light from the blind rear wall makes some spaces unusable.

The urban renaissance of the city must be considered alongside a cultural awakening to have a real impact on the population. The creation of a new École Supérieure des Arts Graphiques et Audiovisuels de Charleroi (ESAGAC) fills a gap in the teaching offer while being part of the cultural life of the city. The building, whose qualities doesn’t require any massive destructive operations, is adapted to today’s use by three interventions.

A new internal circulation is created by horizontal corridors joined by a new staircase whose steel sheets unfold through the floors.

The existing patio of the hotel is extended on the lower level. This wide opening develops into a covered terrace towards the front of the building and becomes a skylight for the top floors. The last intervention takes advantage of the peripheral roof around the hotel to add an exterior skin of winter gardens to the new student rooms, while homogenizing the expressions of the facades of the hotel and the bank.

The organization of the bank was respected for the installation of the school. The ground floor duplex houses a vitrine workshop, faculty premises and auditoriums. The triplex of landscaped offices is redeveloped into workshops. Finally, the former executive office floor, housing the cafeteria, the library and the large terrace, becomes the gathering space of the school, connected by the new staircase to the large workshop on the ground floor.

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