The Municipal Archives have progressively been faced with the problem of not being able to fulfill their missions correctly due to the lack of space and the inadapted nature of their premises.
In 2006, the City of Bordeaux decided to build a new hall for the archives in the ZAC Bastide Niel. This cultural facility will open its doors to the public at the beginning of 2016.
The building work for the new Municipal Archives began in February 2013 on the site of the old rail warehouse, the Halle des Magasins Généraux.
This warehouse dates from the Second Empire (around 1850-1860). It was originally designed as a storage site for goods in transit between the waterways and the railways which had just arrived in La Bastide.
In spite of the fire which largely destroyed the hall on June 22 2008, the City of Bordeaux maintained the project. It has been decided that the elements linked to railway history will be preserved and showcased.
In 2010 the Belgian agency Robbrecht en Daem was the winner of the international architecture competition, which had a total 119 candidates. The experience of this agency in the rehabilitation of industrial buildings is internationally recognized, and particularly so in Europe. It has already created archive buildings, museums and cultural sites (Municipal Archives of Anvers and Brussels, the renovation of the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, extension of the museum Bojmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam) as well as public places (place Leopold de Wael in Anvers).
The agency Robbrecht en Daem : http://www.robbrechtendaem.com
With a total surface area of 8000m², the new premises will provide the municipal Archives the necessary space to redeploy their activities. The areas open to the public will be 10 times bigger, the working areas will be doubled, and the preservation areas will hold 19 linear kilometers of archives.
The architectural project is built around the old hall, dedicated to preservation and to the communication of the collections. Overlooking the reading room (which has 36 places), the five levels of storage units are cantilevered, evoking the sedimentation of the archives.
A new building has been built at right-angles. The ground floor holds areas open to the public: exhibition hall, conference rooms and workshops. The first floor has the personnel’s work area (offices and processing rooms). Walkways link the two buildings.
This L-shaped building opens out onto an enormous, tree-covered forecourt. A theatre of greenery, paths and a canopy make it a place for walks. It is a true agora, a place where everyone can relax, meet and discuss.
A scientific and heritage site of reference, the new Archive hall reflects the will to open it to the neighborhood and the general public.
It is an essential tool in the redeployment of the municipal Archives’ cultural project: development of partnerships and reinforcement of the cultural, pedagogical and mediation programs in order to share with the public, both from here and elsewhere, the riches of the preserved collections and of a history with a universal reach.
This new installation will also bring the municipal Archives into the digital era: virtual reading room, Wi-Fi connection.