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ILIAS PAPAGEORGIOU

The architectural team SO-IL, co-founded and headed by Ilias Papageorgiou, won first prize in the international competition to re-envision the former glass factory at Site Verrier de Meisenthal in France.

A cultural centre catering for music, art and other events is now housed at the site of the old glass factory. The same site is also home to the Glass Museum and the International Glass Art Centre (CIAV), where traditional glassmaking interfaces with modern techniques. The SO-IL team, working in partnership with the French architectural firm Freaks, undertook to renovate and extend the old factory. Comprised of a cluster of buildings, the former glass factory will be unified by a concrete ‘tapestry’, which will embrace the new visitor centre, and a 500-seat theatre, creating a separate landscape that doesn’t overshadow the existing buildings. This ‘tapestry’ simultaneously clarifies the site’s complex topography and creates a highly flexible space that allows for a variety of functions from festivals to outdoor performances.

Ilias Papageorgiou explained that the design was inspired by the transformative process of glass making; a reinvention of the site into a new form born from its history and looking towards the future.

The new addition plays a coherent, not too invasive role, which is vital given the immense mass of the factory in the very heart of the tiny village of Meisenthal in a narrow valley in the Vosges du Nord National Park.

The New York-based SO-IL architectural practice has gained international recognition for its work and won several important prizes.