Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes from Barcelona reveals the first features of the “Cité administrative” in Briançon, which is expected to be finished by 2024, after winning the worldwide tender in November 2021 ahead of almost fifty architecture studios from various countries.

Technical sheet:
“Cité administrative” in Briançon (France)
Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes Jordi Garcés, Daria de Seta, Anna Bonet
Location Caserna Berwick, Edificio B3, Avenue du Général Barbot, Briançon
Developer Communauté de Communes du Briançonnais
Surface area 5.897 m2 (constructed)

Project date
Winners of the International Tender – November 2021
Project started – January 2022

CET ingenierie – Structure, Installations and Health and Safety
Tribú Energie – Sustainability and Energy Efficiency
Acoustique Vivié & associée – Acoustics
GV ingenierie – Construction Economy
Cycle-Up – Material Reuse

“Cité administrative” in Briançon (France) by Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes - Sheet2
©Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes

This project, which is a part of the planning for the new “ZAC Coeur de ville,” aims to consolidate the various administrative services of the city and of the Briançonnais community of municipalities into a new, more useful center with improved user accessibility. It involves renovating the historic complex of the former military barracks in Briançon and expanding it.

“Reading the existing to understand its potential and introducing almost surgical transformations is our main strategy. In a spirit of economy of materials, processes and energy, what came before is a good to be conserved and enhanced in its double dimension as heritage: on the one hand, cultural and historical, and, on the other, material and thermodynamic” comment the architects Jordi Garcés, Daria de Seta and Anna Bonet.

Garcés de Seta Bonet’s proposal for the new Cité Administrative is set within the ideal urban context to elucidate a new identity for this venerable institution: open to the main square, in surroundings that are highly significant for the city’s historical memory, and in continuity with the most recent urban transformations in the area, which will soon be completed with the construction of a sizable park.

A “new head” that simultaneously adds elegance and discretion to the former barracks completes the project by Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes while barely touching what came before. This addition makes the complex a brand-new city landmark and connects it with the Avenue du Général Barbot, showing its fresh, modern presence to visitors.

From this angle, the structure looks to have a triple-order portico, or “modern pronaos,” which welcomes visitors to Briançon’s new administrative center. While the ordered and slender geometry of the structure implies the importance and privilege of the building’s users, who have the noble and essential responsibility of administering the city, the spaces’ enormous openness and luminosity portray a porous, open, and welcome institution.

“Cité administrative” in Briançon (France) by Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes - Sheet3
©Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes

The precast concrete used in this new construction gives the substantial stone typical of Vauban’s fortifications a more modern language, responding to the character of the location. The stunning alpine environment is multiplied in reflections by the glass facades during the day, but from dusk to morning, they shine light directly onto the square.

An ideal belt connecting the two structures is created on the ground floor by a single-level portico that runs along the façade facing the plaza to the existing media library. In the large public plaza, the height itself, the rhythm of the porticos, and a similar materiality produce a visual echo that revives the traditional notion of architecture as a mediator, able to support human movement and life.

©Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes

The previous barracks, which have been incorporated into this extension, may fully express its variety of qualities: the repetitious and regular construction serves as the appropriate setting for the administrative offices of a government that tries to instill order and clarity in its constituents. Inside, the numerous departments are set up like a notice board, in a specific order.

The major heritage rehabilitation technique of Garcés de Seta Bonet involves reading the existing to grasp its potential and applying nearly surgical modifications. What came before is a good to be maintained and enhanced in its twin dimension as heritage: on the one hand, cultural and historical, and, on the other, material and thermodynamic. This is done in the spirit of saving materials, processes, and energy.

About Garcés de Seta Bonet Arquitectes

A new phase of international tenders and works is being led by colleagues Jordi Garcés, Daria de Seta, and Anna Bonet since 2011.

They have enjoyed significant critical success in recent years. They have won significant international contracts for the renovation of the Prieuré and Roman villa in Pully (Lausanne), the Palace of Justice in Strasbourg, the Siracusa Maritime Station, and a residential complex. The design for the three metro stations on Barcelona’s Line 9 was featured, among other places, in the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale and later won the 2016 FAD Award. For the Strasbourg Palace of Justice, the Geste d’Or Award was given in 2018 and it was a nominee for the Equerre d’Argent Award in 2017.

The partners’ professional complementarity, both from a generational and cultural perspective as well as in terms of social responsibility, has led to their most recent works, which are capable of understanding the conceptual, technical, and project management problems of the present.


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