‘L’histoire Continue.’ – The History of Meisenthal Continues Through the Winner of this Years AR New into Old Awards

Site Verrier Award Architecture Review 2023 New into Old Award

SO-IL and Freaks Architecture have received the 2023 Architecture Review New into Old Award for the renovation and extension of the Site Verrier an 18th-century glass factory. The site is home to the Meisenthal Glass Museum and the International Glass Art Centre, and the project delivered the modernisation of these institutions alongside the addition of a multipurpose cultural venue for exhibitions and concerts.

The Architecture Review New into Old awards celebrate the creative ways buildings are adapted and remodelled to welcome new contemporary uses. With 11% of global energy-related carbon emissions coming from materials and construction, the awards showcase architects who are discovering sustainable alternatives to building new spaces.

The awards were launched in 2017 and winners are chosen every two years, you can register here for the 2025 awards. The Judging panel is comprised of three architects, Lu Wenyu, co-founder of Amateur Architecture Studio, Mohamadreza Ghodousi, founder of ZAV Architects and Sandro Valentino, founding partner of Valentino Architects.

Site Verrier in Meisenthal, France by SO-IL and Freaks Architecture | Image Credit Iwan Baan

Site Verrier the Restoration of a Historic Site

The Miesenthal glass factory was established in 1704, in Moselle France. An accumulation of buildings were constructed over the following three centuries to match the new demands and innovation of glassmaking. The glassmaking industry is a key part of the regions identity with two active factories remaining close to the site Lalique and Saint‑Louis, both specialising in luxury crystal. 

However, the site was closed in 1969 sold to the town and was left derelict. Following the closure of the factory, the site was reactivated by passionate locals of all generations. In 1978 a glass-making museum was established to preserve the heritage of the site, followed by an art and design centre dedicated to glassblowing in 1992, the Centre International d’Art Verrier . In the early 1990’s the factory’s abandoned hangar was also fixed with salvaged bricks and bags of cement by local teenagers, creating a space for concerts. The hangar has since become a venue of regional and national significance, the Halle Verrière. 

So-IL and FREAKS won an international competition in 2015 to renovate the historic space. The architects unified the historic site with a concrete plaza designed to complement and contrast the heritage of these industrial structures. Florian Idenburg founding partner of SO–IL, admits that their insight into the carbon footprint of concrete has evolved since the project was designed 10 years ago.  

Due to the protected nature of the existing buildings, the studio’s interventions are kept minimal, with simple concrete additions contrasting the brick and steel of the original structures. The project was designed to complement rather than contrast the historic buildings. Idenberg believes the site will be at its best 15 years from now. Adding that ‘At the moment, you can see the new intervention. But it will gradually melt into the palette of textures and materials to create an architecture that is more integrated. What we are doing is continuing the process of constant transformation.’ The motto of Site Verrier L’histoire continue’ hangs in the new workshop in the form of a neon light, the history continues.

Highly Commended and Commended Finalists from 2023

Rieckshof in Uckermark, Germany by Helga Blocksdorf Architektur | Image Credit Ruben Beilby
Laguna México in Mexico City, Mexico by Productora | Image Credit Camila Cossio
Cowshed in Devon, UK by David Kohn Architects | Image Credit Max Creasy
Kaomai Museum in Chang Mai, Thailand by PAVA Architects | Image Credit Spaceshift Studio
Khlong San Studio in Bangkok, Thailand by Everyday Architect & Design Studio | Image Credit Ohm Anawat

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