The transformation of the Saint-Vaast abbey is an emblematic gesture for the city of Arras and its territory. The project brings together local history and artistic heritage through the creation of la Fabrique de l’Imaginaire which gathers the town museum and the multimedia library.

Our interventions are hardly visible, so as to respect the site by composing with the existing building to preserve the architectural layers of the abbey (excavations, initial project, post-war reconstruction, reinforced concrete works by Pierre Paquet, Pierre Prunet’s project…). We are moving the entrance and its forecourt to give space to the “Prunet breach” where a staircase the height of the building has been installed since the 1980s. We are removing it to restore the light and reveal the programmes. The forecourt, which is connected to the historical centre, re-establish the entrance in the former carriage porch. This new esplanade, naturally slopping towards the new entrance, invites the passers-by to come and visit the site. The courtyard of the well is covered by glass windows, offering a space accessible to both the visitors of the Fabrique de l’Imaginaire and guests of the hotel located in the northern wing of the building. The arrangement of the museum erases as much as possible the technical elements, and privileges furnishing that participates in the comfort of the visitors (cloakrooms, toilets, bleachers, kiosks, curiosity cabinets, reading areas). This reversible equipment adjusts to the programme which connects museum and media library in the scattered places of the listed abbey.

Restauration and rehabilitation of the Saint-Vaast abbey to create the Fabrique de l’Imaginaire gathering the municipal museum and the multimedia library
Arras (62)
Listed historical monument, works to be carried out while the site is in use
City of Arras
h2o architectes (lead architects) with Équilibre Structures (structure engineer), WOR Ingénierie (fluid and thermal engineer) VPEAS (economy), Atelier FCS (scenographer) et VIBC Ingénierie (scheduling, overseeing and coordination function)
12 520 m²
Lost competition (2020)