Spanning two Urban Development Zones, the École Polytechnique district and the Moulon district, this large-scale campus represents the pinnacle of national higher education and research, and is one of the greatest student residences ever created in France. The Moulon Park is a meeting place for all residents of the South Plateau district and campus users. It is surrounded by educational buildings (ENS to the north, Ecole Centrale to the east) as well as family and student housing to the west, emphasizing its qualities as a public space open to all.
The Block B project strives first and foremost to create a bridge between the city district (family housing, public facilities, services, shops, etc.) and the university campus (educational buildings, student residences, sports facilities) within the same territory, unlike in other large university enclaves that are disconnected from their city centres. By opting for compactness and diversity, the project offers shared meeting places and public spaces. A new hybrid urban structure, which privileges spaces where people converge and meet, provides opportunities for both privacy and community life.
Consisting of eight buildings of varying heights within a wooded park, the project focuses on creating fluidity between the student residence and the district of Moulon, favouring open forms and unrestricted movement between the different spaces.
The Plot B project is an opportunity to reconcile architecture and landscape. The project is based on a simple idea: densifying the edge of the plot to create a true park in the centre. This strategy results in two typological groups : the architecture at the perimeter and the architecture in the centre. To that end, three buildings surround the plot, attesting to the separation between the inside and outside, and creating a central plot, the park punctuated by “Muses”. Therefore, 70% of the program’s lodgings are in peripheral buildings (01-02-03).
With breaks and openings created by wide doorways and the design of the outside spaces, the project introduces the idea that there is a “proper transparency”, placing nature life on centre stage, as a link to architecture and a guaranty of that form of the city’s ecology to which we all aspire.
The Muses Park
Inspired by garden design, the “Muses” park uses nature as its focal point, favouring an architecture that melds with the landscape. Expansive lawns are sprinkled with birches, lending an intimate and friendly scale to the pedestrian-only park.
Following the model of the pavilion and carrousel, the inspiration for the so-called “Muse” buildings is drawn from Greek antiquity and the ornamental gardens of the early 18th century. Five cylinders provide volume with no specific orientation or hierarchy, and punctuate the walking path. Within the Saclay campus, a place of knowledge and research, the Muses park strives to celebrate this history of the garden, offering a contemporary version. The circular forms and freeform installation of the “Muses” ultimately reinforces the fluid views and paths of the park.
Shared design components provide coherence to all of the buildings and allows each architectural structure to shine, enriching the other buildings while preserving their overall cohesion.
Two kinds of complementary facade treatments have thus been used:
- Buildings 01, 02 and 03, made in black and grey stained concrete, are marked by a frame and regular openings, which create a regular and symmetrical architecture.
- Buildings 04, 05, 06, 07 and 08, known as the “Muses” have been done in exposed, prefabricated concrete, revealing a play of photo-engraved matrices and repeating the muse pattern of Greek mythology. Through their materials, contours and profile, the façades become narrative spaces.
While the buildings along the perimeter of the plot cultivate an urban lifestyle, the residences in the “Muses” form a more innovative habitat.
The circular forms allow the façade length per residence to be increased, while reducing the façade length for the total surface area. The cylindrical plan optimises the distribution surfaces, reducing the surface area of the entry and allowing spaces for separate living and sleeping areas. The vertical circulations are established at the centre of the layout, connecting to an elevator and an enclosed stairway serving 14 residences per level, with an average surface area of 18.50 m2 each. The peripheral buildings offer various types of housing ranging from the T1 clusters which surround common living areas, to shared apartments.
|Programme||900 student dormitories|
|Address||ZAC du Moulon, Gif-sur-Yvette|
|Cost||€40M before tax|
|Surface area||14,603 m2 (25,346 m2 SP)|
|Team||LAN (authorised architect), Clément Vergély Architectes (architect), Topotek (landscape architect), Franck Boutté Consultants (HQE), Undo-Redo (signage)|
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LAN (Local Architecture Network) was created by Benoit Jallon and Umberto Napolitano in 2002, with the idea of exploring architecture as an area of activity at the intersection of several disciplines. This attitude, which has now become a methodology, allows the agency to explore new territories in search of a vision involving social, urban, ecological and functional issues.