In 2010, an invitation to tender was held by the Municipality of Chaumont and its project partners: the French State, the Champagne-Ardenne Regional Council, and the Haute-Marne County Council. Tenders were submitted by 109 teams, each combining architectural and graphic-design expertise.
A panel of judges assessed the tenders by four finalists: Jakob + MacFarlane and Trafik, Moatti & Rivière and Polymago, Kempe Thill and Lonne Wennekendon, Olgga and Bruce Mau Design. The winners were Moatti & Rivière.
“Simple in its thin mono-material, and rich in volume, the International Centre for Graphic Design in Chaumont is a silent abstraction ready to host every image. Our project consists of large planes placed in the town. The architecture is derived from the world of graphic design, and from objects and substrates that have forever been inhabited by this art:
poster - sheet - page - screen - panel.
These large planes, built in stone, form the walls and roofs. Comprising 12cm thick panels, they are rendered abstract by their thinness: stone cladding and an aluminium honeycomb core. This rigid material allows such thin stone.
These juxtaposed or overlaid planes move close to or away from each other. Between them are vast expanses of glass (that can be closed by curtains). The interior is thus visible from the town.
Stone and glass form simple or complex ensembles to perform the various roles of street facades:
- at the corners, they compose a serial ensemble which, by its monumentality, marks the public presence of the building;
- on the station-road side, they are simply juxtaposed by angled recesses;
- facing the bank, the thin stone sections are mobile: the temporary-exhibition space can be opened onto the exterior, creating continuity with the courtyard and town;
- three sheets, higher than the others, provide their surfaces for monumental installations in strategic locations: on the way out of the railway station, on the road into town (Rue de Verdun), and at the centre of the CIG facing Place des Arts.”
The arrangement of the facades enables graphic interventions:
“A graphic intervention, in its minimalism, deliberately belongs to architecture, inscribing itself on walls like a filigree, marking their surface. Two dot screens, regular and orthogonal, lend graphic structure to the Centre’s stone sheets. From the top, a screen of metal dots on the monumental scale of the building extends downwards; at eye level it meets a screen of smaller, screenprinted dots.
In the upper section, the screen can become a display substrate, hosting signs and images of all sizes. The free surfaces offer their dotted surfaces to guests of special events, inviting interventions by artists: typographers, poster and graphic designers, illustrators, etc.
The dotted stone surfaces promise many uses: for events and for drawn, fixed or projected signs and images. These visual applications will guarantee the ability of the architecture to embody and convey the essence and topicality of the place, as well as its legitimacy and boldness. They will thus make it possible to renew, update and host every kind of writing and movement – both the heritage of graphic design and its latest developments.”