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La Fontaine multisports complex in Antony, France

Golden nugget

published in sb 1/2021

A focal point for meeting and practising sports, the multisports complex designed by archi5 with Tecnova architecture houses two separate parts, one for the middle school and the other for clubs and municipal organisations. The challenge was to create an integrative proj­ect and unite the two facilities that operate independently, even though they share some spaces such as a climbing wall, martial arts dojo, boxing hall, multipurpose hall, and offices.

LafontaineMultisportsComplex-02_sb 1 2021 Sergio Grazia

photo: Sergio Grazia

LafontaineMultisportsComplex-08 sb 1 2021_Sergio Grazia

photo: Sergio Grazia

There was a strong political will locally for a new urban ambition for this neighbourhood. The context is mixed with linear apartment blocks on one side and the park’s exceptional ­planted heritage on the other. The project includes a clearly-defined theme (nature) for individuals and the community as a whole. It is as much an expression of form as function, visible in all aspects of the building and on all scales.

The building takes the area’s vocabulary into account and complements the urban environment by injecting new impetus into the setting. It has become an attractive landmark for residents on a scale with the neighbourhood.

The project uses mystery to sharpen ­curiosity and interest. This is manifested by the choice of this mineral shape as a large, multi-­facetted monolith, i.e. a mysterious, precious stone planted in the landscape that contrasts yet harmonises with the setting. The fascinating structure of this “gold nugget” is framed by greenery. The roof serves as the fifth façade.

Powerful ties with nature

LafontaineMultisportsComplex-23_sb 1 2021 Sergio Grazia

photo: Sergio Grazia

The complex shapes a landscape out of which the urban feature of the climbing hall emerges. The building is one with the green environment and stands out from the neighbouring buildings. Here, nature is not expressed by plants, i.e. there is no plant cover that is not in accordance with the building’s scale or inappropriate to the context of the venue. Its unusualness gives it its identity, its landmark status.

In this new landscape a central incision opens onto the Bièvre valley and clearly separates the two sides of the sport centre and ensures natural light in the gymnasiums and concourses. This incision is like a canyon, exploiting the building’s scale. It is an invitation to unravel the mystery of the precious rock and heightens the subtle permeability between the interior with the exterior. It is the key to a closer reading of the building that reveals its transparency as one approaches it.

The analogy with nature is not just a formal one. It is deeply grounded in the building’s structure by the choice of noble, integral materials which will only improve with time. The skin is composed of a copper, alu­minium and tin alloy. It will not rust, will retain its bronze colour and will take on a more matted sheen with age.

Good to know

LafontaineMultisportsComplex-plan_sb 1 2021

Antony, France

City of Antony

FR – 93100 Montreuil

Tecnova Architecture
FR – 75005 Paris

archi5 & Tecnova Architecture

Sergio Grazia

Official opening

Construction costs
EUR 14.3 million

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Taking the outside in

LafontaineMultisportsComplex-12_sb 1 2021 Sergio Grazia

photo: Sergio Grazia

The sports centre is structured by a play of transparencies and visual vents, which blur the borders between outside and inside, so that the surrounding greenery is ever present. The openings are framed and highlight striking features on the inside and outside. The orientations have been chosen for the sporting activity.

The walls are covered with wooden slats, and the taut canvas ceilings respect the dimensions of the facets. The natural lighting, spacious volumes, and atmospheres generated by the unvarnished material are conducive to the peacefulness necessary for practising sport. A balcony-like partial mezzanine has been created for the public and offers views of the sports halls.