The designers describe it as a “fluid and soft” edifice defined by “lightness and clarity.” And while the words of Paris-based architects Ferrier Marchetti Studio paint a vivd mental portrait, the adjectives are a surprising — and surprisingly accurate — label for a 52,000-square-metre stadium and event venue. South of Paris, the newly completed Centre Orléans Métropole is a sinuously fluid take on an imposing typology.

The stadium exterior viewed from afar on a foggy day. The light-coloured building almost melds with the thick fog

Designed in collaboration with stadium specialists Populous (who oversaw the arena’s seating bowl and interiors) and Chaix & Morel and Associates, the venue features a modular, adaptable arena that can be configured to host a range of sporting events and concerts. Alongside the sporting showpiece, the complex — which was commissioned by the municipality of Orléans — also features an adjacent convention centre and congress hall to create a mixed-use destination.

A look up at the filigree facade, which almost melds with the sky above the structure of the building

Ferrier Marchetti’s trio of facilities are housed in a pair of volumes connected by a tall glass passageway. The standalone arena is situated alongside the larger congress/convention hub, which features a 1,000-seat lecture hall and a restaurant, among other flexible spaces, and is designed to host a wide variety of non-sporting events. Across the exterior, both Centre Orléans Métropole volumes are defined by an undulating façade treatment; the rectilinear glass shells cloaked in scalloped sheets of perforated metal.

A close view of the facade from behind a thicket of trees. The view shows a glass cut-out behind the filigree

The simple but rigorously applied motif fosters an elegant sense of aesthetic unity — and lightness — across an imposing complex. “By floating in front of the buildings, the façade creates transparencies, suggests silhouettes, offers depths of field,” the designers explain. Depending on conditions, an almost ethereal interplay of light and shadow might animate the façade throughout the day, while the evening can bring forth a dynamic lighting program that bathes the crisp steel in dreamy hues.

The complex in the early evening, viewed from between the stadium and convention centre, with the facade lit up in purple light

The pairing of a glass envelope and a sculptural metal screen creates an eye-catching aesthetic identity, but Ferrier Marchetti’s signature gesture also reflects a sensibly pared down design. Inside, the concrete structure is left almost entirely exposed, minimizing the project’s material footprint and allowing the play of light and shadow through the filigree screen to shape the hallways and circulation spaces.

A view of a light-filled long hallway inside the complex.

A similarly raw yet refined interior defines the arena, which can accommodate just over 10,000 spectators, depending on the configuration. Boasting a 3,000-square-metre platform, the space can host a wide range of sporting and cultural events. Last month, a European handball tournament inaugurated the venue, and the stadium is also approved for international competitions in basketball, volleyball, badminton, gymnastics, judo, athletics, and boxing.

The empty stadium interior at the Centre Orléans Métropole

Inspired by its setting near the banks of the Loire River — a UNESCO Heritage Site approximately 100 kilometres south of Paris — the graceful, kinetic design evokes the flow of water and captures the movement of light.

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