MVRDV - Rennes Palais du Commerce

Rennes Palais du Commerce

MVRDV has won the competition to renovate and extend the historic Palais du Commerce in Rennes. Developed alongside co-architects Bernard Desmoulin for developers Frey and Engie Avenue, the 18,000-square-metre redevelopment of the notable Rennes landmark will signify a renaissance for both the building and its surroundings. MVRDV’s proposal will reactivate the Place de la République and turn this former public building into a centrepiece of the city’s main commercial street, raising it to the level of significance that was initially intended.

The most striking exterior change to the existing building is the addition of a grand, winding staircase at the centre of the façade, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that the original building did not have the elegant foyer space or other spatial centrepiece typically found in such grand buildings. This addition also serves a very functional role in the new layout: on the second floor, a welcoming reception area sets up a path through the building’s upper levels.
The 18,000-square-metre project – which includes 12,000 square metres in the existing building and a 6,000-square-metre extension – introduces new shops, a hotel, offices, a coworking space, a variety of leisure spaces (including a LEGO museum and event space and an electronic music bar), and a school for the kitchen and hotel industry led by chef Thierry Marx.
The extension, on the eastern end of the building, comprises a wood construction that imitates the forms of the original building while adopting a modern architectural expression, with a façade of black textured ceramic and opaque glass panels which references the black slate roofs of the Palais du Commerce and other buildings in the city centre. This will be respectfully connected to the existing building by a glass gallery that, like the passage through the Palais, offers permeability at street level. Inside, a second winding staircase connects the route through the building’s second floor level to the new entrance on Place de la République.

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