Vinci International Congress Center

  • Tours, France
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Our whole task in the context, or rather the contexts – Général Leclerc Place, Palissy Street, the prefecture garden, the train station – is to liberate the site from its residual nature. It is about the specificity of a city, an urban location, and a program, a balancing act between neighboring conditions and their varying perspectives. It is also about resolving a contradiction between a monumental urban program and a domestically-scaled site that asks rather for a non-entity, for something willingly absorbed by the two major presences of the surrounding urban space: the existing prefecture and the train station.


Our task was to avoid this situation, but also to use it to our advantage. Thus the new building is simultaneously a monument and a natural consequence of the site. Seen from the boulevard and the station, the Conference Center is an arrowhead directed towards the park. From the covered place beneath the prow of the great, slightly rounded roof, one can see and feel the center’s belly and its depth, with its three suspended halls clad in gunmetal gray. These three main halls are clearly separated by transparent slots. A broken line of escalators along their flanks leads to the halls, and also to a large 4000 square meters exhibition space beneath the roof. The restaurant commands a strategic position in the building’s prow. Each element of this symmetrical and rigorously organized building complements the other.


The double stairs are symmetrically suspended, and read as lanterns when illuminated. At night, light from an unseen source in the central core projects superimposed shadows of frames and materials. In its response to the street and the gardens, the Tours Conference Center is a paradox between external simplicity and internal complexity, between density and transparency, between symmetry and diversity. I hope that the thread of contradictions renders it a natural and obvious building, clearly made to be where it is.



Jean Nouvel