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James Tarry's photography blog. Ramblings from a photographers over active mind. Email now or call +44 (0)7855 742 633.

Base Sous-Marine, Bordeaux

Bordeaux, a city of wonderful architecture, a mix of styles from 18th century all the way to more contemporary classics. For me the city handles and understands how to treat architecture, it merges old and new, doesn't just knock buildings down, but thinks about how to use them effectively. 

One of my biggest gripes about London is the recent trend of taking an historical building and turning it into over priced luxury apartments that alienate the majority of the cities inhabitants. The Battersea Power Station and Lots Road Power Station being two particular examples. Here, in France they think a little differently.

Base Sous-marine is a protective bunker, built in 1941, it housed long boats and German U-boats. There are eleven berths in total, some are dry docks while the others are wet docks and range from 94-104m in length and could hold the submarines. Completed in 1944 it was built by Spanish and Portuguese prisoners, and many died under the extreme conditions of building the structure. Until 1944, more than 40 submarines either set off from or landed at the base. In 1944 it was dynamited and sabotaged. 

The stats: 43,000 square metres big, 245 metres long, 19 metres high, 162 metres wide. The roof alone is 9.20 metres thick and 600,000 cubic metres of concrete was used building it and it also housed it's own indoor railway system, shops and offices.

The area surrounding Base Sous-Marine is currently under huge development (Wine City), and while I imagine the cost of destroying all that concrete would have been costly, I'm sure many other times it would've been bulldozed and sold off, however Bordeaux has in fact decided to use it, open its doors for the Arts, concerts and social gatherings. It's a beautiful structure, and while only parts of it are open to the public it's exactly how I like to see old buildings kept alive and reused. 

A wonderful building to see if you are in Bordeaux, but also a great exhibition space and close to the new bridge and shopping area-if you fancy a stroll.

Currently showing (June 2014) Franco-Chinese artist Li Chevalier.