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A parking lot in the midst of a vast void on the remote periphery of the town of Saint Herblain. near Nantes, is the unlikely site on which Myrto Vitart was commissioned to build a 4-store> cultural centre containing a theatre with 354 seats, as well as an exhibition area and three halls for conventions. Despite its relatively small scale and simple programme, the build ing is significant; what makes it so is the incongruous relation between the building's function and its context.

The centre is balanced on a borderline between two radically different environments. On the entrance side to the south, it overlooks what will eventually become a lush Edemc garden. At the back, to the north, just the opposite: an expanse of empty space, an asphalt desert. Beyond the huge. 10-hectare. V-shaped parking lot whose distant sharp point sinks beneath the surface of a miragelike body of water, the only signs of life area colossal hypermarket (by Richard Rogers)anc gigantic factory warehouses that seem dwarfed in the distance. The topography of the site seems transposed from Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas.

Rather than try to dissimulate or camouflage the surroundings consecrated to the cult of the car and mass consumption, Vitart has chosen to confront them. This contextual response

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