Renovation and architecture

The renovation and architecture of the CNCS

When the CNCS opened its doors on July 1st, 2006 in the Quartier Villars, twenty-five years had gone by since the last police had left. Restoration work carried out on the building has been exemplary. Work has scrupulously respected its unique character and spectacular architecture. The old 18th century military barracks, listed as a historical monument, has been metamorphosed into a major local, national and international center for culture.

History of the renovation:

What would the destiny be of this spectacular building and its surrounding walls? At the beginning of the 1980s this question concerned local people and town councilors alike.  After many twists and turns in its fate, the Villars Quarters, doomed to destruction and largely demolished was finally saved in 1984 as a result of its being listed as a historical monument. 

The question then became how could the Villars Quarters be restored? 

Ten years after it being listed as a historical monument, the state decided to create the National Center for Stage Costumes and Scenography.  Its main missions would be the preservation of an important heritage collection and its valorization to the general public.

Major renovation work would be required to the Villars Quarters. It was necessary to return the main listed elements to their original state, renovate all of the buildings laid out around the military parade ground, build a new wing and adapt everything to its new use.

The renovation of the main building was entrusted to François Voinchet, head architect for historical monuments. The architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte was awarded the contract for internal layout and design and the creation of the new wing to house the costume collections of the CNCS. Joined to the main building, this storage area designed on a basis of strict and contemporary volumes matches perfectly the original architecture by respecting its proportions and rigor while at the same time alluding to textiles and its previous military occupation by the use of steel mesh to cover the concrete. 

Description of the architecture:

The main building

This building is remarkable in many ways, the elegance of its proportions, the quality of its equipment, the audacity of construction processes used, its reinforced masonry, its Saracen arches… The 93 meter long, 20 meter wide building is made up of three 1450m2 floors.  Three monumental stairways provide access to the different floors. The architectual style and sandstone used which comes from the Coulandon quarry not far from Moulins make the stairways particularly elegant.

The old cavalry barrack rooms are distributed from one end to the other by these stairwells in 9 regular spans.

On the ground floor, previously used as stables, we can now find the reception and ticket office, central stairway, shop, restaurant and a 100 seat auditorium. Since October 2013, three new spans have been opened permanently to the general public, exhibiting the Nureyev Collection.
The first floor is completely used for temporary exhibitions, with eight exhibition rooms and a large double-height room equipped with a theater technical grid for the presentation of sets or other theatrical scenography.
On the second floor, there are pedagogical areas (two 300m2 workshops), meeting rooms, a documentation center (300 m2) and administration offices.

When it opened the building was part of an EDF pilot project, equipped with a heating/air conditioning heat pump system using phreatic groundwater making the CNCS a precursor in sustainable development.

Work began in 1996 and was finished in 2006 at a cost of 22 million euros, financed by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, local authorities and the ERDF. The town of Moulins was responsible for the landscaping of the parade ground and surrounding areas.

Placed once again in the spotlight, Villars Quarters, transformed into a shrine to costume rapidly became a star, one of the unavoidable cultural and touristic jewels of the Auvergne.