Rochemaure, close to Montélimar, Département Ardèche, France
Competition, 1st Prize 1996
1998 – 1999
Since 1957 the Rhône has been dammed near Montélimar in south-east France by the Barrage de Rochemaure, a listed monument. Its turbines harness the river water to generate electricity. In the late 1990s, the ageing dam had to undergo a technical modernisation that could not be implemented without architectural changes. To design the enclosures for the new technical equipment, the operating company invited tenders via an architectural competition, which Bollhalder Eberle Architektur won in 1996. More
The command rooms above the individual weir piers rest on expressive disc girders. These, in turn, resist the constant force of the river water with their characteristic shape. Through formal analogies, the new parts of the building echo the original ones. At the same time, they distance themselves from them by creating contrasts between the light and the heavy. The poetry of this precarious state of equilibrium surrounds the renovated structure. Filigree panelling and large-format control windows with louvre elements give the pier houses a simple, barrack-like appearance.