The headquarters of Métropole Rouen Normandie are a unique, memorable and fitting image on the banks of the Seine in Rouen. What makes it so unique is how the new building fits in with the surrounding landscape of Rouen. The building’s dynamic profile contrasts with the omnipresence of horizontal designs found along the major port, while its silhouette echoes the renovated industrial buildings on the right bank. The oblique shapes are reminiscent of the silhouettes of cranes and other objects in the port and the bows of the passing ships…
The building showcases and utilises the site’s strong presence to enhance urban life on the left bank. As an extension of the future park, the building is the figurehead of the future eco-district. It is a contemporary metropolitan icon, but already forms part of the surroundings, much like the cathedral and the Gustave Flaubert bridge. It blends in with the unique visual landscape of the quays and the history of the port.
Its multi-faceted, transparent architecture plays with the changing light of the Normandy sky, reflections from the water, and the colours of the climate. The building is covered with fish-like ‘scales’ made of subtly coloured glass. Reflecting and refracting the light of the sun, the glass scales cover the building with hints of colour that are further enhanced by the reflections from the river below.
The effect is inspired by impressionist painting, and in particular Claude Monet. The glass is covered with a layer of metal oxide creating a colourful iridescent reflection from the outside, but disappearing on the inside leaving the light in work areas unaffected. These changing colours are a contemporary interpretation of the chromatic variations in Claude Monet’s many paintings of Rouen Cathedral.
Photography by Luc Boegly