Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium / K-architectures

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium / K-architectures

Context. Inaugurated in 1976, Talence’s Pierre-Paul Bernard stadium was built in the heart of the Thouars woods. This location offers an exceptionally wild environment. The site is mainly dedicated to athletics and hosts national and international events, notably the Décastar, which has been part of the IAAF (World Athletics) world challenge in combined events since 1998. Kevin Mayer set the decathlon world record here in 2018. Since then, the site has become an essential step for world-class athletes, as well as Bordeaux’s biggest annual sporting event, attracting over 15,000 spectators.

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Exterior Photography, Windows
Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Exterior Photography, Facade

ln March 2020, the Décastar received the Heritage plaque from World Athletics at the Pierre-Paul Bernard stadium. This award celebrates the unique contribution of this international meeting to the history and development of athletics worldwide.

ln 2016, the «Bordeaux Métropole» community of municipalities appointed K ARCHITECTURES to renovate the stadium’s track and grandstands, as well as to build a maintenance division, and, above all, a new sport complex housing indoor practice halls, a dojo, a weight room, an administrative division and spaces of conviviality.

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Exterior Photography, Facade
Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Exterior Photography, Windows, Facade

Challenge. The Thouars communal wood is a natural monument in the city. To build an additional 4,000 m2 without removing a single tree appeared magical. Here was the eternal and infinitely current dilemma: «Can we sacrifice a living cathedra! to make way for an artificial chapel? And, even if grassed glades had long been reclaimed from natural biotopes, what form could this program take across the landscape when it required shed-sized buildings?

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Image 18 of 26

Concept. For Karine Herman and Jérôme Sigwalt, Thouars Wood is a living myth. it’s the representation of a utopia, that of a rustic ideal where mankind has regained the ability to live in symbiosis with the rest of the living world. The project imagines a forest narrative in which architecture is written, mimetically and minimally, by slipping between the trees. The program’s vast halls were imagined as a hamlet of rudimentary barns. The volumes have been fragmented and divided by redents, both in plan and profile, to reduce the sense of mass. Their facades are made of darkened wooden battens as if immersed in the shadow of the canopy. Roofs are reduced to a thin, modest corrugated metal sheet, evoking sheets of mist.

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Image 4 of 26

The simplicity and minimization of superfluous elements of these constructions underline a pared-down lifestyle, emphasizing the essential. It is a project that speaks of serenity, in the presence of nature, with which it seeks to reconcile itself – and in the presence of athletes – to offer them peace of mind.

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Interior Photography, Windows, Beam

The simplicity and minimization of superfluous elements of these constructions underline a pared-down lifestyle, emphasizing the essential. lt is a project that speaks of serenity, in the presence of nature, with which it seeks to reconcile itself – and in the presence of athletes – to offer them peace of mind.

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Image 23 of 26

This architecture is also a continuation of the local history, of the «Girolle», the popular house designed by the «École Bordelaise» in the 60s. The lightness of its roofs, their wide overhangs, the play of transparencies, the invitation of natural light as well as the invitation of the landscape itself, the constructive sincerity assumed as well as the use of wood as an architectural material are all common qualities with this little house often found in the sandy pinewoods of the region.

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Interior Photography, Wood, Windows

ln tact, to bring the story into context, it was these same pine forests that grew the maritime pines used to make the glulam framework for the stadium’s new buildings. Wood is widely used for structural and cladding applications for two reasons. The first is its quality as a bio-sourced material and its ability to trap large quantities of C02.

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Image 13 of 26
Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Interior Photography

The second, more subjective, lies in its cultural capacity to convey a soft, natural image linked to the values defended by the project. But this subjectivity is not total, interestingly, biologists have measured the biophilic effect of wood and found a 10% increase in well-being in architectures dominated by its presence.

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Exterior Photography, Facade

All facades are clad in the «shadow» of burnt wood cladding inspired by the Japanese technique of Yakisugi[1 ], literally «burnt cedar». This is an ancestral practice rooted in respect for both man and nature. lt is obtained by deeply burning the surface of the wood. it is both practical and symbolic. Naturally treated in this way, the material becomes more resistant to fire, insects, and fungi.

Pierre-Paul Bernard Stadium  / K-architectures - Exterior Photography

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