La cuisine is an art and design centre dedicated to contemporary creation, born in 2014 and developed by the town of Nègrepelisse. Its openness to themes related to food and design makes it a unique place in Europe.
The art center is conceived as a laboratory that invites visual artists, designers, graphic artists, architects, etc., to develop projects in situ. Exhibitions, residencies and workshops allow the territory and its inhabitants to be involved in the creative process.
The commune of Nègrepelisse becomes a space for study and experimentation of artistic production in open-air circuits. It is home to several works of design and architecture that are placed in the public space and in the courtyard of the art center :
-Chérie, j'ai oublié la nappe! / 5.5 designers
-Le bois de Sharewood / Matali Crasset.
-Aux Arbres ! The nourishing forest, the larder of La cuisine // The New Ministry of Agriculture
-Maxidreams / Florence Doléac
-Canopée / Blouses Brothers & ConstructLab collaboration
-Tables for a normal meal in COVID time / Workshop by Joanne Pouzenc of ENSA Toulouse
All these questions resonate in the art center's experimental kitchens, that is both a tool for creation and mediation. As a living space, the center offers a program of events throughout the year: visits, workshops, conferences, performances, readings and concerts.
Since September 2019, a new three-year program has been launched: RECONCILIATION
We are aware of the challenges of LA CUISINE's relationship with its territory and its inhabitants, and it is the demand to take into account the context and the issues related to food, eating and cooking that make it unique.
Last years, the issue of climate change has imposed itself on us. Nature is inviting itself onto the stage, into our debates, and we have chosen to welcome it. In an article entitled Enriching our sensitivity to life through art, Estelle Zhong asks this question: "What can art do in the face of the contemporary systemic ecological crisis? "She continues: "This question may seem incongruous, almost irrelevant: why ask art to play a role in a situation that appears to be primarily political, economic or militant? And how can we think that art can have an effect on this crisis, which is unfolding on such a large scale and covers so many issues? Our hypothesis is as follows: the ecological crisis is to be understood first and foremost as a crisis of sensitivity; and for this reason, art can play a decisive role in enriching and transforming our relationship with nature and the living. "
So today the question arises of the reconciliation between nature and culture, how are we humans, artists, designers, architects, inhabitants, people, going to rebuild our relationship with the living, what alliances should we create with the soil, the earth, the plants, the trees, the living, the non-humans, so that we are no longer in a relationship of exploitation but of collaboration and exchange?
On a macro scale, can art help us to reconcile the art and design center, the totem of modernity, with its environment?
Today we want to create in Nègrepelisse a field of experimentation for reconciliation. In a triple gesture, we will question the stakes linked to the climate crisis and to the relationship of La cuisine to its territory by inviting artists, researchers, farmers, cooks, local associations, designers and students.
The town of Nègrepelisse has chosen to rehabilitate a heritage site, the town's former castle dating from the 13th century, to install premises adapted to the activities of the art center. Following a competition launched in 2008, RCR Arquitectes (Pritzker Prize 2017) was selected to carry out this work. A prestigious Catalan architectural firm, they have won numerous national and international competitions, including the future Soulages Museum in Rodez.
The building of La cuisine blends into the old architecture of the castle to become one. RCR's architectural proposal is based on the ruins of the castle of Nègrepelisse. The architects chose to use the iconic dimension of the castle to give the center a strong identity.
Two buildings are built parallel to the curtain walls. Designed as a meeting point, this new facility includes an exhibition room, an auditorium, an experimental kitchen, educational spaces, a documentation center, a workshop for artists in residence and offices. The new building also brings the castle's inner courtyard to life. This space has the potential to be used for exhibitions and events, especially during the summer months. The courtyard, as in the days of the lords, will once again become an emblematic place of life and gathering for the town of Nègrepelisse in a new form.
RCR Arquitectes is a Catalan practice that emerged from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Vallès, near Barcelona, and is now based in the town of Olot in the heart of the Garrotxa Natural Park in Spain.
It is the landscape of this volcanic region that influences their architectural style. The forms developed in their work derive from the reading of this landscape, shaped by man: the work of the soil in the platform, the dynamism and the reflections of the water, the depth and the filter that the surrounding forest can create for the gaze, the geology and the relationship between the rural habitat and the topography.
The question of landscape and terroir, which are of primary importance in the rehabilitation of the château de Nègrepelisse, touched RCR:
"The iconic dimension of the castle gives a very strong identity to the art center. It is therefore necessary to take advantage of this symbolic soul by consolidating the identity values of the building.
The proposed project is the result of a contextual and singular questioning of the possible resonances between the potentialities of a place and the underlying energies of a program. "
On 1 March 2017, the Catalan trio was awarded the Pritzker Prize for their body of work. They are the first to jointly receive this prize, often considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in architecture.