The complex, consisting of the Museum of Brittany, the City Library and the "Space of Science", is called "Free Spheres" [les Champs Libres], which can also be associated with the expression meaning freedom of action. The latter is especially important given the specifics of the project. Portzampark sought to unite all three institutions in one building, while highlighting them - in form and material - from the outside.
At the same time, the architect admits that at the beginning of work on the project - during the 1993 competition - he even had doubts about its viability and feasibility. At the same time, there was a danger of the complex turning into another symbol of useless bureaucratic activity, provided that the coexistence of these cultural institutions was impossible. But the support of the Mayor of Rennes, Edmond Herve, who saw in the "Free Spheres" the way to fruitful interaction of the inhabitants of the city of 300 thousand (every third of whom is a student), the fusion of different cultures, fields of knowledge with an encouraging result, allowed Portzampark to bring the matter to an end.
The selected site in the city center, next to the old and new train stations, also borders the Charles de Gaulle esplanade, a former bridgehead, now a venue for various fairs and car parking. Nearby is the new Colombier quarter and the URSSAF tower.
Thus, neither from the point of view of architecture, nor from the history of the district is nothing significant, therefore it was the duty of the architect to solve the urban planning problem - to create a center of attraction for the entire district.
The main volume of the building is a "confluence" of the externally allocated zones of the museum, library and natural science center.
The Brittany Museum is designed in the form of a dolmen (a megalithic structure typical of this French province), raised above the first floor. Its façade is decorated with a concrete panel by sculptor Martin Wallis, using pink granite and quartz, typical of the region's materials. This volume is cut, on both sides, by an inverted pyramid of a library made of glass and white aluminum and a hemisphere of the Space of Science planetarium, sheathed with "scales" of black zinc (an allusion to slate and slate, widely used in Breton architecture).
Also outside is the volume of museum storage facilities, with each section located above the hall where its exhibits are exhibited.
The large lobby on the ground floor has three separate entrances on three different sides. It is crossed by balconies and bridges, allowing you to quickly move around the complex. Also on the first tier are the Polle Foundation, an auditorium, halls for temporary exhibitions, a children's library, and, to the south, a small garden.
Another original element of the cultural center is the library ceiling: they filter the light that enters the main reading room, one wall of which is completely glazed, and from where a panoramic view of the city opens.
Thanks to its free forms, the "Free Spheres" complex stands out from the surrounding traditional buildings. At the same time, thanks to the use of familiar local colors and materials, it is nevertheless inscribed in the urban fabric.