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BIG’s MÉCA combines three regional art agencies into one loop

The project gives Bordeaux an art-filled public space from the waterfront to the city’s new urban room.

July 11, 2019 |

All photos: Laurian Ghinitoiu

The new 18,000-sm Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine, or MÉCA, brings together FRAC for contemporary art, ALCA for cinema, literature, and audiovisuals, and OARA for performing arts, into one cultural loop. BIG and FREAKS freearchitects were selected to design the art and culture building back in 2012.

A series of steps and ramps leads from the pavement of the promenade, passed the façade that provides glimpses into the stage towers of OARA and the offices of ALCA, and into the 1,100-sm outdoor urban room at MÉCA’s core. During special occasions, the outdoor urban room (and other outdoor spaces) can be turned into a stage for concerts and theatrical performances, or an extended gallery for sculptures and other art installations. The façade comprises 4,800 prefabricated concrete panels interspersed with windows of various sizes to control the amount of light entering inside. The 1.6-ton concrete slabs are sandblasted to expose their raw qualities and to texture the surface with the local sandstone of Bordeaux. 


Aerial view of MECA


When visitors enter MÉCA from the ground floor, they will be met with a lobby where they can relax in the spiral pit or dine at Le CREM, a restaurant furnished with red furniture and cork chairs, a reference to the wine the city is known for. Near the restaurant, a giant periscope allows visitors to see the activity in the outdoor urban room and vice-versa.


MECA Urban Room


Also on the ground floor is OARA’s 250-seat theater. It features flexible seating configurations and acoustic systems optimized by an all-black checkerboard panel of concrete, wood, and perforated metal. On the second floor is an 80-seat, red-accented cinema and two production offices and project incubation areas. FRAC occupies the upper floors. These spaces include seven-meter-high exhibition spaces, production studios for artists, storage facilities, and a 90-seat auditorium and café.

Topping off the entire building is an 850-sm public roof terrace. The terrace serves as an extension of the exhibitions spaces and provides space for large-scale art installations and outdoor performances.



Red furniture in MECA restaurant


250-seat theater



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