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Old Bibot building (Namur)

Exterior services, direction of Namur, General Department of Territorial Equipment, Lodging and Patrimony

The 'Bibot' real estate

Known by all the people from Namur under the name "BIBOT", the building which the Direction générale de l'Aménagement du Territoire, du Logement et du Patrimoine (Directorate General of Territory Equipment, Lodging and Patrimony) should reside in, was built in 1897 on the Place Léopold II. Its style matches the "eclecticism" vigorously but was very much influenced by the neorenaissance. The façade is organized around three central bays and is stimulated by a mixture of many architectural elements like balconies with guardians at the banisters, bands, etc. Its frontside is raised by pilars surmounted with domes. The roof bears several elaborated attic windows especially at the centre.

The "Bibot" building, abandoned for a long time, has been completely redeveloped in 1997 by the architect Francis Haulot. He has redesigned the spatial interior organisation while respecting the classic façade. The architectural choices aim at expressing the interventions imposed by re-using the building (main entrance, attic windows, stairs etc) in a contemporary way. The ancient façade made of stone and bricks is made a bit nicer by some elegant notes of steel and glass.

The Walloon Commission of Art detained the integration project of the French photographer Hervé Charles. In a series of pictures he associates the different aggregate states of the water (clouds, ice etc.), elements which remind of the administration assignment of the new building and the geographic situation of Namur at the meeting point of Sambre and Meuse.


Hervé Charles : “à travers les nuages” (across the clouds)

The circular trace of the entrance hall and its welcoming function have determined the artistic integration by the Brabantine photographer Hervé Charles. Hardly having viewed the place he was stroked by the idea to hang a great circular picture (with a diameter of 2m) up in the ceiling printed on a transparent support. This represents a cloudy sky seen from the air. Placed there, the picture recalls two saints like they appear in the vaults of renaissance cathedrals. A projector placed on the floor according to he motive drawn on the pavement directs the sight from ground to above.

A frieze composed of eight rectangular pictures (0.55m x 1.5m each) matches the curv of the wall. Each picture is superposed by two transparent images where water, snow and ice can be seen. The two wooden reception desks have also got a circular shape which correspond to the walls of the hall.

Choosing a transparent support for all the photographs meets the artist's wish to ''dematerialise" the walls. By suggesting the presence of clouds and water (Namur is built around rivers) in the interior of the building, Hervé Charles proposes "to look through the walls". By this the building becomes a true passage between interior and exterior, between the real and an other space, suggested by imagination. This vision also reinforces the "pantheistic" dimension which characterizes his work for many years.

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