Alvéole 14 – Transformation of a Submarine Base

The submarine base was constructed in the historical centre of Saint-Nazaire by the German Navy during WW II on an enormous scale of 295 x 130 x 18 metres with concrete walls of up to 9 metres thick. Its transformation into a contemporary cultural centre – part of an urban plan to regenerate the waterfront - was based on a series of minimal interventions that reorganised three of the former cells into distinct elements connected by an interior street.

While the centre for emerging art forms (LiFE) is a minimalistically equipped ‘monospace’ that can be opened up towards the harbour, the venue for contemporary music (VIP) is a dense cube enclosed by a steel frame that accommodates 600 people, as well as a bar, an archive and recording studios. From the internal street a staircase leads to a roof platform where a geodesic dome from the Berlin Tempelhof Airport serves as a ‘think tank’ for art and music projects.