RATP Bus Center in Thiais / ECDM

Architects: Emmanuel Combarel Dominique Marrec
Location: Thiais, France
Engineering: BETOM – SIT
Main Contractor: DUTHEIL – BETSINOR / LABASETERE
Client: PARIS HABITAT
Program: Administrative building
Project year: 2003-2007
Site Area: 3,5 há
Constructed Area: 2,450 sqm
Photographs: Benoit Fougeirol – Philippe Ruault

Located in the southern suburban area of Paris along wide boulevards and roadway interchanges, in an industrial landscape characterised by a succession of boxes (at best basic), the RATP Bus Centre in Thiais controls all the bus lines of the south and east of Paris.

The centre accommodates 300 buses. 800 bus drivers pass through the building every day, including the administrative, the security and the maintenance staffs which manage the Bus Centre. It’s a flux building.

site plan

In this fuzzy territory, only one federating element can be pointed out: the 100 % inorganic ground of the site – a mix of asphalt and concrete.

So, we reduced the site to its primary function: a bus park, a vast monolithic slab, uniform mineral territory.

The existing concrete crust that covers the evolution area of the buses is distorted, modeled to cover the administrative center. The building starts with the deformation of the ground and continues it with an apparently similar material, a sheet of ultra high performance concrete, paradoxical and superlative, 3 cm thick displaying a non slippery texture of dots in relief like a game of “LEGO” (24 mm diameter  x 7 mm high, distant  of 12 mm) contributing to a kinetic morphing which responds to very sophisticated demands : informality of the structure, constant evolution of the plans, density, homogeneity, dematerialization, precision, durability towards emphasized constraints. It ensures a continuity of the ground from the road, to the skin of the façades, the suspended ceilings and the terrace rooftop without any rupture, proposing a merging between the building and its support to a point of confusion. The building has neither a beginning nor an end.

The plasticity of the material combined with its mechanical performance induces an “All-over” appropriate to a multiplicity of uses and maximized solicitations, possibly opened to a non-control of the limits and the uses.

The building appears like a monolith with rounded edges, polished somehow, required here as a morphing of the context to cover the carcass of a composite program. The result is a dense, inert and deaf building, as enigmatic as “the hull of a Russian submarine in the waters of Murmansk”.

The concrete hull is cut out with a Stanley knife, surgical incisions revealing cavities of reflective and coloured . Treated with silver mirror dots, chromatics of the products are inspired by the tinted curtain wall frontages of the “office” buildings which border the main road.

Aside the administrative building, the program also includes the realization of a new checkpoint of the centre and a bikes shelter.

Cite: "RATP Bus Center in Thiais / ECDM" 04 Mar 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 Jul 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=14493>

25 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Nearly perfect… except the insulation fixed on the interior side of the concrete walls…

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    very special and with simply delightful details. At first i thought the textured surface was a bit too much but quite compliments the curvaceous details

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    wow! I think this is a sexy building – and its a million times better than any bus depot Ive ever seen in Britain!!!

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    This ultra high performance concrete is caled Ductal. It’s made by Lafarge and it a concrete very dense with metalic fiber, or carbon fiber. The particularity of this concrete is that it can match every surface you use to mold it (lizard skin, wallpaper, wood) in the finest details. It is not just an estetic concrete, the other particularity is that you can produce structures without steel inside. The futur of concrete

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Yep Guillaume ! very high resistant concrete. Ductal found his name in the ductily and well self-placing of this concrete. Great examples are the footbridge of Rudy Ricciotti in Seoul or Francesco Passaniti, furniture designer.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i have recently noticed by visiting this building for a six week holiday to study the archutecural features of the building that the south east glass panneling is not within the threshold of the ANARACK IS THE BEST archutecural laws of 2002 and therefore the building must be demolished within 8 weeks of this alert if action is not put into place then the building will be air striked oblivious to its current inhabbitants and all the buses will be planted with BOMBS!!!!!!!! thank you that will be all
    ANARACK IS THE BEST ANARACK IS THE BEST ANARACK IS THE BEST!

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I would like that the sister, in name RATP, have such great building. Cool lines, curves. Bestial design you achived ECDM

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

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