Skip to main content
News / Architecture / Interior architecture / Events / The Franciscans: from a place of worship to a cultural place

The Franciscans: from a place of worship to a cultural place

The Franciscans are supposed to open their doors to the public on March 21 and herald a cultural spring in Deauville. Renovated by Alain Moatti and his team, this former convent is converted into a hybrid place: a warm meeting where you come to stroll, drink a coffee while consulting books, and an event site, between the museum of the painter André Hamburg and city collections, temporary exhibitions, conferences and concerts. This space crosses the eras with simplicity, by a well thought out layout and a fluidity in the circulation of spaces.

Les Fransciscaines, janvier 2018 Deauville

Like places naturally steeped in history, the Franciscan Convent of Deauville is rich in human adventures. At the origin of its creation, in 1875, two sailor’s daughters decided to finance an orphanage. They entrust the management of it to two Franciscan sisters, who will eventually establish a congregation there. Much later, the buildings will house a dispensary, then a clinic, a technical school … until today’s cultural project, which combines media library, museum and performance hall.

Jeux de lumière dans le cloître ©ND
Les Franciscaines novembre 2020, Chapelle, Deauville.

This project is the result of two concomitant steps: in 2011, the family of the painter André Hambourg decided to donate his works to the city to make a museum, while the thirty or so sisters who still reside to the Franciscans ceded the building to the city for their sake. 'install next door. The combination of this donation and this freed space will determine the hybrid nature of the program, in a sharing of objectives registered in the same site: museum dedicated to the painter, enhancement of the iconic collection of Deauville, place of temporary exhibition, media library ... This cultural space must also be a living space, which visitors and the public can appropriate. An inspiring challenge for the architect Alain Moatti, who must open up to the city a place that is by nature closed, and moreover must compose a project that preserves the facade and covers the patio.

A quiet light

Le “Nuage” dans le cloître, les Franciscaines © J.Jacquemot

To play the card of the appropriation of the place, Alain Moatti seeks to make dialogue between the eras, and makes the places warm by a management of the light. The patio covered with a glass roof reveals a sculptural cloud inspired by the works of André Hambourg, which multiplies on the reflections of natural lighting on the stone walls of the alcoves, and paradoxically makes the sky “come inside” according to the architect. In the exhibition spaces, the creation of skylights (which can be obscured if necessary) reinforces the serenity of the place, and avoids an impression of austerity that could inhabit the stones. If the museum space dedicated to the painter begins with a very intimate first floor, the second floor, which combines natural light and targeted lighting, makes the space breathe, and naturally joins the sector dedicated to children.

Cour des expositions © Moatti-Rivière
Le cloître © Moatti-Rivière

A space structured around 5 themes

Rather than opting for a place structured by function (a media library, viewing area, etc.), the space is here organized around themes where all uses are possible: reading, resting, listening to music, seeing a video, discover works of art… Thus the passageways of the two floors are divided into 5 sectors (Deauville, youth, art of living, cinema and entertainment, horse). The coherence of the whole is ensured by a line of shelves all in convolutions, designed by Alain Moatti to evoke a “ribbon of knowledge”, which at the same time serve as occasional hooks of works of the permanent collection of the city, libraries, space dividers to define areas in which to rest. Beyond a signage color by theme and differentiated furniture (we recognize by passing the collections at Kristallia, Pedrali, Fatboy …), the choice of materials also personalizes the “universe” created: a leather covering on the wall of the space devoted to horses, a long wooden “beach” in the well-being section which will also accommodate deckchairs …

Univers Spectacles © Naïade Plante
Univers Deauville © Naïade Plante

Between symbols and traces

Outside, two imposing monoliths mark the entrance to the site: an invitation to come and stroll through this formerly private building, now for public use. In the chapel converted into a performance hall or reception hall, only the stained-glass windows tell the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. In support of the suspended conchs, the walls have been worked to guarantee good acoustics. While walking through the place, it is the small arcades preserved or recreated, which will keep the framework of this former convent. As Alain Moatti puts it, “what interests me is to look for figures, to find symbolic elements that escaped the nuns: the“ cloud ”of the cloister is one of them. We live in recognizable places, it is this layer of imagination that I seek in the objects or figures that I recover, the dialogue between the period arches, which evoke the cloister, and their resumption in the exhibition spaces. . “

Les Franciscaines – Vitrail La Chapelle 2 ©Naïade Plante
Le cloître (détail) – © DR
Fenêtre © Naïade Plante
Le cloître (détail) 3 – © DR

The cultural program

Simulation Expo “Sur les chemins du paradis”

This instinctive sharing of the imagination, which makes you want to appropriate a place, the Franciscan management team intends to make it its credo to retain visitors, and involve them directly in the space to facilitate the discovery of the works disseminated. in parties in an open place.

Here, everyone can come and consult books and different media, and a fablab space will also accommodate different audiences. Of course, borrowing implies a monthly membership, and of course events are ticketed. What the team defends in particular is on the passageways the provision of self-service digital consoles, from which the visitor can project images on large digital screens that come to dress the place, chosen from a bank of images representative of the collections. Because here, above all, it is a question of promoting and making known the collections, whether it is that of the museum (therefore transferred by the family …) or of the important iconographic background: in a principle of “imaginary to the work ”which takes the form of“ pooling ”.

FabLab © Naïade Plante
La Grande Galerie © Moatti-Rivière