Although the starting point, back in 1979, was Antigone — a mixed-use plan on a decidedly giant scale, in synch with the nature of its designer, Ricardo Bofill — the present has brought a selection of internationally famous architects. In September, the Zaha Hadid-designed Pierre Vives Building opens, an architectural complex condensing three public structures within a single shell: the archives, a multimedia library and the Hérault Sport Centre. Also in September, the Massimiliano Fuksas-designed Georges-Freche catering school opens its doors, a curvilinear mass that plants its monumental presence in the no man's land between city and sea.
Monumental is the right adjective for Bofill's Antigone district, Hadid's building — with its fluid concrete lines —, and the Fuksas school complex, but also for the new City Hall, completed by Jean Nouvel in 2011. Here, the scale becomes truly gigantic, true to the sense of grandeur that has always described the French approach to the concept of the city and architecture. Here one finds another vision that lends form and life to the city, falling closer to people's everyday lives. As said above, it is curious to see that these two ways of looking at architecture originated from the same hand and are in visual contact with each other — people on the terrace of the City Hall can see a second building in a smaller scale, refined in every detail. It is the new RBC Design Center, also designed by Jean Nouvel, which stands on the road to the sea.
Alongside Nouvel, the RBC project was driven by several different figures: the client Franck Argentin, who has turned in the past to Philippe Starck, Antonio Citterio, Christophe Pillet, Piero Lissoni and Jacob + MacFarlane to design his centres; the architectural partnership of Nicolas Cregut and Laurent Duport; and Yann Kersalé, a light artist who " keeps the RBC Design Center alive when night falls". Laura Bossi