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Entrée de Ville - Bayonne

Mateo Arquitectura

A slow observation of people and architecture to unveil the "Entree de ville" complex in Bayonne.


Bayonne is a French city in the south of the country at the confluence of the Adour and Nive rivers. The city centre is recognizable as a former ancient walled town; nowadays a green belt surrounds it. Modern urban expansion has spread to the west, and it is in this part of the city that Mateo Arquitectura designed "Entreé de ville", a multifunctional complex marking access to the city for those arriving from the north, crossing the Henri Grenet bridge.

The project was selected following a competition held in 2006 and completed in 2016. One year later, the Chilean filmmaker Pablo Casals Aguirre visited the site and filmed its everyday routine. With great narrative skill, he highlights the daily movements of some people living here as well as features of the architecture.

Slow camera movements with long takes let observers walk through the complex and discover its qualities bit by bit. In the very first scene the viewer can appreciate Michel Desvigne's landscape design by observing a gardener working or bystanders walking along the footpaths in the greenery. An area separate from the traffic has been designed for pedestrians due to the complex road junction nearby. The park is thus one of the three main elements of the project and Pablo Casals Aguirre shows several views of it.

The project includes two buildings with different functions. The first, called "Marinadour", is a dense residential complex on top of a shopping centre and car parks. Its interior courtyards are isolated from street traffic providing inhabitants with protected spaces. Large openings in its façade provide views of the landscape, fostering visual connections with the surroundings. The second building, called "Rivadour", is a continuous urban block with a permeable ground floor which follows the river before breaking off towards the city at its extremity, where it hosts a hotel.

The filmmaker follows passers-by and inhabitants and observes their actions, representing an opportunity to show how the space is used and showcase the architectural features. Many people pass in front of the camera, each with their own personal stories of living in that place: some go to work and others are already in their offices, a woman takes care of her plants in a small patch of private garden while a man spends time on the balcony regardless of the traffic. These observations are also a pretext to focus on the details of the architecture. While filming people, the camera sometimes shifts to general views, showing the bridge, the traffic junction and the river. Here the new park and the two buildings appear as part of the urban landscape.

With his camera, Pablo Casals Aguirre collects many traces through people, architecture, and the landscape; ultimately, they are all stratified in the short film so that, with each subsequent viewing, new details emerge and the observer discovers details that didn't captured their attention before, hence the project is finally unveiled.

(Story by Paola Ricco, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Architect: Mateo Arquitectura
Mentioned project: Bayonne, entrée de ville (2006-2016)
Project location: Bayonne, France

France 2017
Duration: 5'02''