Chantier Culturel, Schaerbeek
Cultural centre on the site of a former cinema and theatre

Location : Chaussée de Haecht 294-300, rue Creuse 19-27, 1030 Schaerbeek
Client : gemeente - commune de Schaerbeek assisted by Renovas
Architect : Czvek Rigby in collaboration with Mamout
Structural engineer: JZH
Technical engineer: JZH
Theatre engineer: TTAS
Acoustician: Kalhe
Landscape architect: Landscale
Surface : 2.104 m² net
Budget : 1st phase: 2.500.000 EUR excl. VAT; 2nd phase: 850.000 EUR excl. VAT
Competition : 2019

Two distinct buildings, two former local cultural venues, the Elite cinema and the Scarabeus theatre compose the plot purchased by the commune of Schaerbeek to house its new cultural centre.
Although the existing volumes literally match the size of the different performance halls envisioned in the brief, the two buildings are strongly set back to back, making any porosity and interaction impossible within this existing configuration.
This spatial challenge, the ambitious program (three distinct performance halls, numerous polyvalent spaces, a generous foyer, etc.), as well as the very tight budget, ask for a strategic reconfiguration of the site, developed from a thorough and a non-nostalgic reading of the existing.
A deliberate choice for efficiency (in terms of functionality, readability, phasing and budget), leads to the demolition of the former cinema building and the adjacent house, allowing the construction of a state-of-the-art large hall and the creation of a generous, bright, open spaces at the core of the site and its program. Furthemore, this bold move allows to keep the former theatre mostly unaltered, making the most of the existing facilities.
The central foyer, acting as the spatial and social hinge of the project, offers a series of rich distinct spaces, allowing a wide array of uses: small performances, exhibitions, etc.
The question of "phasing" holds a crucial role in regards to the ever-changing needs of cultural venues. Large open spaces combined with a double front-and-back vertical circulation allow for great adaptability. The "chantier culturel" is a framework, kept alive and and in constant mutation by culture and its users.