Arsenal de Metz

DATE: 1989
LOCATION: Metz, Lorraine, France, EU
OLD USE: Arsenal
NEW USE: Concert hall and exhibition gallery


Built in 1863 during the reign of Napoleon III, this building served as a military arsenal for over a century.[1]


Ricardo Bofill, the renowned Catalan architect, was born in 1939 in Barcelona. In 1963, shortly after graduating from the Barcelona University of Arqitectura and Scholl of Geneva, Bofill formed an international team of architects, engineers, sociologists, writers, movie makers and philosophers and thus founded Taller de Arqitectura. Over the past 40 years, the studio has gathered valuable experience in the fields of urban planning, architecture, landscaping, interior, furniture and product design. Among prestigious projects undertaken by Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arqitectura are the Christian Dior headquarters in Paris, the headquarters developed for Cartier, Decaux, Axa, the Shiseido company headquarters in Tokyo, Donnelley skyscraper in Chicago, and the international airport in Barcelona, and many other.


The restoration of the building, with its nearly 11,961 sq. yards of built surface, was directed at accommodating a rehearsal hall, a concert hall for chamber music, a restaurant, exhibition gallery, offices for administration, management and centre services and a 1,500-seat auditorium. One wing of the building, originally square with a 100′ x 166′ interior courtyard, has been sacrificed in order to open up the central courtyard to the city, forming a public square and giving a better view of the Templars chapel, which dates from the 12th century. The façade has been slightly modified by means of cladding with slabs of natural stone with metal joints which underline the rhythm of the arches. The introduction of big new windows has lightened the heavy, opaque solidity of the old military building. The main auditorium is underground, situated beneath the central square. The roof, with its wooden structure covered with anodized steel, is flat, the problems of reverberation were resolved by means of a design based on detailed studies of acoustic performance. The hall has two ramped seating areas; the smaller, with a pronounced incline, can be used to accommodate the choir when necessary. The orchestra pit is located between these two seating areas, on the lowest level of the auditorium.[2] With its completed conversion, the building is now home to Symphony Orchestra of Lorraine. This project has helped to open up the space to the public, provide a new cultural venue, and build upon its storied past.

[1]Virtual Tourist
[2]Ricardo Bofill

Images courtesy of Ricardo Bofill.