Arles - Fernand Fournier Sports and School Centre
- department: Bouches-du-Rhône
- commune: Arles
- naming: Fernand Fournier Sports and School Centre
- address : rue du maréchal Foch
- authors: Jacques VAN MIGOM (Architect), Michel VAN MIGOM (Architect), Jean PELISSIER (Architect), J. BARRE (Head of agency), Ponts-et-Chaussées (Engineer)
- date: 1952-1964
- protection: unprotected building
- label patrimoine XXe: Commission régionale du patrimoine et des sites (CRPS) du 3 July 2012
The Fernand Fournier Sports and School Centre in Arles was built in the Alyscamps district between 1952 and 1964, according to a project established by architects Jacques Van Migom (1907-1980), Jean Pélissier (1927-2003) and Michel Van Migom (1934-2007) at the request of the city of Arles, which wanted to remedy its lack of sports infrastructure. Many studies (1943-1950) precede the final project (1950-1952) which was finally built 12 years later. In accordance with the wishes of the engineer of Ponts-et-chaussées and Jacques Van Migom, the construction of the sports complex will contribute to the development and urbanization of the district. The center will remain one of the most advanced sports facilities of the department and of this period.
The architect set up the sports fields along a north-south axis. The grassy playground, around which the entire sports centre is built, is surrounded by a 400 m running track. It is bordered, to the west by a covered grandstand and, to the east, by a more modest discovered grandstand. The covered gallery is an impressive concrete structure, 50 m long and 16 m wide. Its 1,772 seats are spread over 15 bleachers. It is accessed by a staircase of honour facing the main entrance of the sports and school centre. The bleachers are protected by a concrete veil. It is both a technical and aesthetic feat. The western façade of the grandstand is a solid plastic-treated concrete wall, with two horizontal registers corresponding respectively to the ground floor and the first floor. The lower part is punctuated by the spans of the frame and pierced by a band of high windows. The upper part is animated by a frame of square motifs treated in concave diamond tips. This original motif is used throughout the sports and school centre. It is found in the gymnasium but also in various variants.
The pool in the centre has three pools: a large bath, a small bath and a circular wading pool. It was built in two sections: large bath (1956-1958); small bath and paddling pool (1959-1960). The large bath was equipped with a diving board consisting of a concrete arch that gave it a sculptural look. The small bath was equipped with a concrete slide whose aerodynamic silhouette resembled that of the big bath diving board. The ingenuity of the device and its aesthetic dimension make it an exemplary whole.
Tennis and basketball clubs were built in 1959-1960, near the secondary entrance. Almost identical, they are in the form of small block pavilions covered by slightly inclined roof terraces.
The gymnasium, both sculptural and functional, is the third architectural piece of the sports centre, along with the grandstand and pool. The building, built in 1963-1964, is a sports hall designed to accommodate the public (capacity of 800 people). The construction combines concrete and metal. Its surface area exceeds 2000 square meters.
We see the disappearance of elements, such as the diving board and the pool slide, which contributed to the identity of the place. The overall logic and traffic within the sports complex remain perceptible even if their legibility has been altered by the construction of new equipment: gymnasium and additional covered grounds.
However, the whole remains coherent. It is a major testimony to the renewal of post-war sports architecture and expresses the structural and technical possibilities of reinforced concrete. The Fernand Fournier Sports and School Centre is labeled as 20th century heritage with the exception of additions.
- Source: Inventory study of the architectural and urban production of Arles and Tarascon (13) from 1900 to 1980, drac paca/ Eléonore Marantz-Jaen, 2010
Read also in Heritage of the 20th century, the study Arles, city and architecture of the 20th century