Going to the next level
The refurbishment of the Allende Hall in Mons-en-Barœul, which included the monumental concert hall and its rehearsal rooms, involved very high precision acoustic engineering and used Texaa®’s Vibrasto covering.
The refurbishment of the Allende concert hall was part of the overall urban renewal programme in the town centre of Mons-en-Barœul, originally laid out by Henri Chomette, following the principles of the Athens Charter proposed by Le Corbusier. The hall forms one of the corners of the central square, facing the town hall in a courteous salute, reflected in the large glass facades of the first floor. The public space lends itself to the assembly of audiences in front of the entrance that is sheltered by a substantial overhang from the building. Although they are all uniformly erected with grey concrete, the facades glisten with quartz inclusions that were set in the prefabricated concrete slabs and polished.
Once you cross the threshold, there is a striking impression of monumental volume, because the space with dimensions sufficient to seat 500 people, extends before you in all three dimensions. Light wells enhance perspective, whose aesthetic is heightened by the contrast of white and black. Visitors are then invited to go to the exhibition gallery, the studios or the concert hall. To enter the large hall, audience members pass through hushed vestibules, where a Texaa® acoustic covering has been installed in a distinctive way. A composite covering made up of three layers has been applied to the walls. The top layer consists of Aeria* sound-transparent fabric. This acoustic “skin” stretched over the walls lends a pleasant feel and encourages a respectful silence, required as people enter the hall. The use of this acoustic material on the walls is also carried over to the studios.
The main hall is complemented with the facilities of three recording studios and a rehearsal room. Like the hall, the studios are triangular and trapezium-shaped, and generate a changing perception of space. Since the walls are not parallel, reverberation is reduced, but not enough to go to the next level of comfort that the architects Dominique Coulon & Associates sought to achieve. The walls were modelled, specifying the necessary quantities of membranes, resonating coverings and dissipating surfaces. In other words, the quantity of wall covering was not solely determined by aesthetic considerations. Acousticians from Euro Sound Project approved the Vibrasto acoustic material, which is very effective when stretched and anchored in front of absorbent laminates 50 to 80 mms thick, ensuring sound absorption close to 100%. Good anticipation during the installation made it possible to fit the coverings flush without revealing their complex supports. The shapes of each piece of covering designed by the architects and upholsterer covered the oblique lines and vertical folds with hardly a trace, while the joins between the 150-cm-wide strips were meticulously concealed.
Using tensioning battens supplied by Texaa® the acoustic covering could be pinched to form pencil-line joints. The shades chosen by the architects came from the subdued general colour scheme of the building: white, black and grey. In the rehearsal room the benefit of the stretched and anchored wall-covering can be enhanced even more by drawing a curtain inside the glass facade overlooking the forecourt outside.
*Aeria, a sound-transparent fabric with an exclusive Texaa® patent.
Texaa® offers a range of twenty-two colours, some of which are pleasantly bright and lively.
The Salvador Allende cultural centre at Mons-en-Barœul, a suburb of Lille in northern France.
260 metres of Vibrasto System 30 in the following colours: MR 640 Nacre, MR 540 Gris and MR 520 Graphite.
Principal: Mons-en-Barœul town council
Contractors: Dominique Coulon & Associates, architects in charge
Architects: Dominique Coulon, Olivier Nicollas
Associate architect (on-site supervision): Agence Damien Surroca
Acousticians: Euro Sound Project (E.S.P.)
Contractor: VBL (Raphael Cocetta) sub-contracting for Jobin & co.
Photographer: Eugéni Pons