Sports centre with white aluminium facade

Hérault Arnod Architectures completes aluminium-clad sports centre in France

A curved, twisting shell of textured aluminium plates covers Espace Mayenne in Laval, France, a multifunctional sports and entertainment venue designed by local practice Hérault Arnod Architectures.

Located on a former military site, the project forms part of a wider scheme to develop an area on the northwestern edge of Laval, which also includes a 250-metre-long outdoor velodrome and the landscaping of the surrounding wetland and woodland.

Cyclists outside the Espace Mayenne in France
Espace Mayenne in Laval has an outdoor velodrome

Drawing on this rapidly-changing natural site, Hérault Arnod Architectures adopted a flowing, organic form for Espace Mayenne that appears to change depending on the direction from which it is viewed.

"This is an area undergoing change," the practice said. "The building's organisation respects the landscape structure and the memory of the site, combining ecology, compactness, economy of means and the creation of a mass plan saving parcels for future programmes."

Glazed atrium of French sports centre
Glazing lines the ground-floor atrium

Espace Mayenne combines three venues; a gymnasium with a climbing wall, a conference hall and a stadium-like space seating up to 4,500 people that can be easily converted to suit sports games or concerts.

The three venues are united by two atrium areas on the lower ground floor and ground floors, separating the entry routes for technicians, staff and artists, and public audiences.

Gymnasium with a climbing wall inside Espace Mayenne
The sports centre has a gymnasium with a climbing wall

Sweeping around the southern side of the building, the ground floor atrium is lined entirely with glazing to open the building up to the landscape, with a ceiling of pale timber slats that follow the flowing form of the exterior.

"[The lobby's] organisation allows a fluid circulation of the different public flows according to various scenarios of occupation – the three venues can be in use at the same time or not," said the practice.

The largest space, the Grand Hall, is designed to be easily convertible from a sports arena layout with bleacher seating around its perimeter to a performance layout, with a stage along its northern edge framed by the drawing of diagonal curtains.

A range of wall finishes for the hall were designed in collaboration with acoustic designers Sempervirens, including corrugated concrete and wool felt wall finishes and hundreds of small wool felt panels organised in a geometric pattern on the ceiling.

Wood-clad ceilings inside Espace Mayenne
The gorund floor atrium has a ceiling made from timber slats

Surrounding the exterior of the building is a skin of aluminium panels with three horizontal bands of different textures, sitting above a wood-clad base and to the west extending downwards to cover the outer wall.

"The facade is like a skin wrapping itself around the rooms, resulting in a shifting shape that constantly changes depending on the viewpoint," said the practice.

Large hall inside sports centre in Laval
The Grand Hall can function as a sports arena or a performance space

"It is composed of three horizontally stacked stripes that deform themselves in order to envelop the volumes as tightly as possible," it continued. "[They] overlap and rotate around the building, generating fluidity, unity and movement."

Other recently completed sports centres include the pre-engineered, metal-clad Obama Sports Complex in Los Angeles by SPF Architects, and the Cárdenas sports complex and skate park in Mexico by Quintanilla Arquitectos.

The photography is by Cyrille Weiner.

More images and plans

Plan of Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Ground floor
Plan of Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Hall
Plan of Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Top floor
Plan of Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Section 2
Plan of Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Section 1
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Large sports centre in gr
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures
Espace Mayenne by Hérault Arnod Architectures