Jean Marc IBOS Myrto VITART Departmental Archives of Ille et Vilaine

Source: Jean Marc IBOS Myrto VITARTPhotography: Stéphane Chalmeau
Date: November 30, 2015

Archives are the memory of times past, as well as the records.

The archives building in Rennes embodies a system where function – which takes on aesthetic qualities here – becomes a symbol. It comprises two distinct parts: one is dedicated to document flow, a vertical shape in the landscape, while the other is for public use only, along a horizontal axis from the parvis.

The dedicated archive space relates to a specific timeframe, namely twenty years with a stock of additional years that will warrant a future extension. That possibility is clearly reflected in the building itself.

The starting point was the archive box, which governed the size of the shelving, which in turn governed the size of the racks as well as the storage units. The units are placed side by side, vertically and throughout the width of the building, leaving some gaps for the future extension. These empty spaces disrupting the linear arrangement are enclosed with translucent honeycomb sidings, whose transient appearance – exacerbated by the vibrating light – contrasts with the density of the storage units.

The grid on the facade itself is like a subgrid of the unit, repeated ad infinitum.

The system switches to the horizontal to generate a series of negative and positive spaces accommodating all the public facilities, arranged in repetitive sequences on either side of the patios.

Two impenetrable worlds lie adjacent and come together in the reading room. Its transparency allows visitors confined to the secure area to see behind the scenes. They get a sense of the pace of life in the archives from the shuttling back and forth of carts in the galleries up above.

They can also isolate themselves, to concentrate on their reading or immerse themselves in the images of magnolias reflected endlessly in the mirrors.

This record of bygone times, the building’s main function, thus finds an expression in this approach based on repetition. An inexorable repetition that symbolises the linearity of archiving and systematically marks every component of the project.

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