Three Teams in Running for 'Cité des Imaginaires' in Nantes

John Hill
19. January 2023
The historic yet unassuming Cap 44 building on the banks of the Loire in Nantes, France, will be home to the Jules Verne Museum and other cultural components of “Cité des Imaginaires.” (Photo: Sophilosledinos/Wikimedia Commons)

More than 160 submissions were received by Nantes Métropole Aménagement last September in the first part of their two-phase competition for the Cité des Imaginaires. The project will be housed in the historic Cap 44 building on the banks of the Loire. The building was given its distinctive blue facade in a 1970s renovation, but beneath its skin is an innovative and historic reinforced concrete frame developed by engineer François Hennebique and built in 1895. The flour mill, which was turned into a warehouse and then offices and has been vacant since 2018, will be transformed into a cultural destination by one of these three teams:

  • Kengo Kuma & Associates, with EGIS, Bollinger+Grohmann, MACIJ FISJER, Lucigny Talhouet, and MET;
  • Snøhetta, with GFTK, TERELL, IMPACT Conseils & ingénierie, Lucigny Talhouet, META Acoustique, Vangaurd économie de la construction, and Les éclaireurs;
  • Neutelings Riedijk Architects, with ARS Rocheteau Saillard, Scenevolution, Artelia, Acoustibel, and Franck Boutté.

According to last week's announcement from the Nantes Métropole Aménagement, which has owned the Cap 44 building since 2018, the teams will have this year to develop their competition schemes and the determination of the winner will take place in early 2024. Delivery of the $50 million euro, 5,000 m2 project is expected to happen by 2028, the bicentenary of Jules Verne's birth in Nantes.

The Cité des Imaginaires will house the collections of the Jules Verne Museum, an exhibition space, a broadcasting venue, a library, creative spaces, restaurants, and a rooftop terrace. The decision to retain the Cap 44 building came out of a six-month consultation with citizens of Nantes in 2018. The cultural program — a cultural place based on the universe of Verne and a more general contemporary imaginary — was determined the following year by a committee of researchers, artists, and cultural figures. 

The current home of the Jules Verne Museum, established in 1978, is housed in the late 19th-century building (right foreground) on the banks of the Loire. (Photo: François de Dijon, croppsed from the original at Wikimedia Commons)

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