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Wednesday 9 December 2015

The Matmut ATLANTIQUE book by Jean-Paul VIGNEAUD

Bordeaux's new stadium, a beautiful story!

The book, which traces the origins of the project right through to its operation, is now available in major retail bookshops, online bookshops and at the Girondins Gallery in the stadium's South Bend. We were keen to meet its author, Jean-Paul VIGNEAUD, who has once again produced a work full of rich information. Many thanks to the contributors to this book, who have put in a great deal of hard work.
(photo portrait ©Claude Petit)

Mr VIGNEAUD, who are you, the man behind the Matmut ATLANTIQUE, Bordeaux's new stadium?

"I'm the author of the book, but I'm not a writer, let alone a historian or an architectural expert. Far from it! I trained as a journalist, and I stayed on to tell the story of this new phase in Bordeaux's history. This is a collaborative effort with Philippe Caumes, a freelance photographer who works in the world of architecture, and my reporter-photographer friends from the Sud-Ouest newspaper.

More specifically, what's your career path?

"When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a journalist, and I became one. I spent ten years with the Centre France Group (La Montagne, le Populaire du Centre...) and thirty years with Sud-Ouest (in the agency and at head office). I've held a number of different positions over the years. Reporter, editorial secretary, branch manager, feature editor, senior reporter... Always with a clear aim: not to be forced to stay behind a desk, but to stay in the field. In contact with the men and women who make everyday life happen."

To monitor major works, for example?

"Those who know me say that I'm a great all-rounder and that I'm passionate about everything. It's true: everything interests me. I'm as curious as a child. I must admit, however, that I have a bit of a penchant for large structures and major projects. I'm impressed by the gigantic works undertaken to build roads, motorways, bridges, railways, stations and other large-scale structures. I've enjoyed following the work on the LGV high-speed rail link, the equally gigantic Bordeaux railway bottleneck, the ring road and the lift bridge. Or the restoration of existing structures such as the Pont d'Aquitaine or Saint-André Cathedral in Bordeaux."

A love of concrete? The dream of driving a bulldozer?

"No! I don't like concrete, steel or old stone any more than anyone else. Most of my house is made of wood. And I've never wanted to drive a bulldozer. Too big for me! What interests me is the know-how and the human adventures involved in these major projects. Behind the 41,000 metres of concrete poured and the 12,300 tonnes of steel in the steel structure of the Matmut ATLANTIQUE, what I remember above all is the number of people who worked to build the structure. It's hard to imagine that 3,435 men and women worked on the site. And yet! It is to all of them that this book is dedicated."

How long did it take you to write it?

"More than two and a half years, between November 2012 and June 2015, from the launch of the project to the final written documents. It all started with a collective brainstorming session with all the partners involved: Bordeaux City Council, Vinci, Fayat, Stade Bordeaux Atlantique and Bordeaux Girondins. We all agreed that it was out of the question to write a book about the project alone. We had to tell the whole story and answer all the questions people might have had: why abandon the Chaban-Delmas (formerly Lescure) stadium? why build the new stadium at Bordeaux-Lac? how the project was put together? how the designers were chosen? how the builders were chosen? how the work was carried out? Finally, what is the Matmut ATLANTIQUE and how does it work? A lot of work. More work, I admit, than I had anticipated. Over fifty people were interviewed."

One memory that sticks in your mind more than others?

"So many good memories! So many that it's hard to name one in particular. What I remember most are the faces of the people I met, questioned or bumped into on the Bordeaux Lac site. Marc Guerpin, the site manager, for example, when he took me to the middle of the construction site at the beginning of 2013 and said to me: you see, this is where the ball will be placed when kick-off comes. How can you imagine that? That day, the pitch was all bumpy, the lower stands had just been built and the metal framework was starting to rise. During the Girondins' first match, this powerful moment came back to me. I closed my eyes and opened them again. The 42,000 spectators screamed. Diego Rollan had just scored the first goal in the stadium's history!"

Will you continue to keep up to date with the stadium?

"How could it be otherwise? I'm not one of the 3,425 people who worked on the site, but as someone who visits the site several times a month, I feel like I've had a bit of a hand in the adventure. I wish the Matmut ATLANTIQUE a life as long and as beautiful as that of the Chaban-Delmas stadium (formerly Lescure), to which, as you can imagine, I am also very attached."

Another book in the pipeline?

"Two years ago, I wrote a book on the history of the Jacques-Chaban-Delmas lift bridge, and this year it's a book on the new stadium. There's a saying that goes, 'two's company, three's a crowd', but I don't think that's going to be the case here. I'm going to put my helmet and trowel in the cupboard... sorry, my computer!"