Helicopter Building / Stephane Maupin & Nicolas Hugon

© Cécile Septet

Architects: Stephane Maupin / Nicolas Hugon
Location: Paris, France
Collaborators: Jérome Santel, Gwenael Lechapelain, Roy Papazian
Project team: Stéphane Maupin + DVVD + GLI BET
Client: RATP / SEDP
Project area: 3,500 sqm
Project year: 2010
Photographs: Cécile Septet

© Cécile Septet

The building is located on the fringe of Paris city, at ‘Porte de la Villette’, an area where the urban fabric dissolves into heterogeneous industrial infrastructures.

Surrounded between Paris ring road, train tracks, factories, and social housings, we were inspired by the brutality of this collage where concrete pillars clashes with raw metal, gravels collides with noisy train sounds…a mineral and raw atmosphere..

© Cécile Septet

The triangular zone of intervention on the site releases itself naturally from the existing constraints. The result is a concrete piece of cake, a simple 22m high extrusion of that original triangular shape.

The building regroups workshops dedicated to the maintenance of the Parisian subway transportation system that were previously dispersed in different places. Employees gathers to the building and get prepared before being routed towards damaged rails tracks sites.

© Cécile Septet

Each of the building’s five floors hosts a different activity and program, first floor is a warehouse, the second floor is filled by lockers, the third floor is a classroom, the fourth floor is for management, the fifth floor welcomes a restaurant with a large terrace offering overlooking views towards the Parisian’s ring road.

The five floors of the buildings are arranged and organized around a central convivial staircase. We designed that staircase as an amazing interior procession. All other circulation spaces are designed as playful additions to the building’s main structure: footbridges, staircases and aerial lifts create a multidimensional atmosphere with varied spatial experiences.

east elevation

As the work is hard, the lockers room is designed as a welcoming and release space, where the combination of washbasin, soap dispenser and mirror with a colorized background resembles a friendly smiley.

The project is crowned by a contemporary tripod helix. This tripod is in fact a combination of the vertical chimney and the light projectors for car parks and areas surrounding the building. It also helps to heat sanitary water, providing a large area of solar panels.

© Cécile Septet

This strong element is a sign of the architect’s engagement to environmental convictions. It proves that the French ‘HQE’ label can also be interpreted with fun.

© Cécile Septet

Trough delicate reaction to the site, and careful organization of the circulations and building’s access, we intended to affirm the building as a ‘worker’s palace’ instead of a banal utilitarian building.

We could easily imagine the head of this submarine bursting through the ice…

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Helicopter Building / Stephane Maupin & Nicolas Hugon" 04 Apr 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=124549>
  • http://individual.cl/ æon

    I imagine someone shot a lot of bullets to this building.

  • Bopp

    I find this strangely refreshing, the longer I look at it the more I like it. Only a small wtf moment: the ceilings…

  • Ralph Kent

    I am filled with this increasing feeling that French architecture seems a little stuck on the setting of BOLD. Are there some more subtle, nuanced projects by French architects that archdaily could publish to reassure us that its not all about arbitrary shapes, zany colours and building as object at the moment in France?

  • bLogHouse

    A bigger wtf moment: the little “house” with the chimney. yeah, it’s a gesture towards the gable roof buildings nearby, but still..
    Overall – a quirky design with a character.

  • Antonie Rashid

    Fantastic! I like tis building a lot. The firm is very interesting here in Paris. Although the only person i met from it was a strange american girl with a bad attitude. But their work is awesome.

  • http://uptodayarch.blogspot.com up_today_arch

    cool, impressive…
    I like this kind of concrete work…