Rectorate Office Building / Hauvette & Associés

Architects: Hauvette & Associés
Location: Cayenne,
Design project manager: Christian Felix
Site project manager: Stéphanie de Lajartre, interior designer
Collaborators: Pierre Champenois, Laetitia Delubac, Stéphanie de Lajartre, Marie Menant and Elena Ranaletti
Client: Ministry of National Education
Engineering: CERA Ingénierie
Project year: 2007
Constructed Area: 5,520 sqm
Photographs: Géraldine Bruneel

The project is designed around a rehabilitated 1980s building whose white external walls had been entirely repainted. Organized around a patio, the main building containing the new rectorate is a rectangular object surrounding the rehabilitated building. Each of its faces has two steel and local wood “drawers”, one containing the raised rectorate offices, the other the computer services.

The project reinterprets a certain “tropical” architectural tradition that has always successfully combined imported components and local materials. As a result, this office building, which uses sustainable, recyclable and renewable materials is, on the one hand, factory-manufactured, delivered in containers and assembled on site and, on the other hand, uses carpenters working with the magnificent regional woods that are available.

To reduce electrical air conditioning to a minimum, the building is designed as a sort of sunlight control and management system. The elevations of the main building are clad with a perforated stainless steel skin that subtly shades the windows. The faces of the “drawers” incorporate screens assembled from rot-proof bebeeru wood. The patios, protected by large aluminium and local wood sunbreakers, introduce a soft, relaxing light into the surrounding offices.

The rationality of the project is made apparent through its strict modularity, with each partition perpendicular to the elevation being repositionable along a 48 cm grid.  The pleasure of working in the building has been accentuated by the incorporation of fast-growing plants into the architecture, as well as attractive species of trees planted in the gardens and avenue trees leading to the car park.

Cite: "Rectorate Office Building / Hauvette & Associés" 08 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    An obvious amount of thought went into making this building without anyone seemingly cognizant of the fact that it strongly resembles a scary futuristic prison. It is always interesting to me how architects, designers, artists, filmakers, writers, and other creative people can become lost in the concept and execution of something without seeing the bigger picture.

    My guess is that there are issues of scale here too. The monolithic proportions of this end up rather forbidding. I suspect that this is a loss in translation from smaller scale projects to a rather larger one.

    Certainly, the thinking is great. The ideas of extreme modularity, permanent materials, and respect for local craft traditions are all wonderful. The result, though, makes me think of interrogation rather than education.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

  • robin

    love it

  • Lucas Gray

    Seeing as they were building around an existing structure perhaps the monolithic aspect of the design works. Who knows if the original building was nice or if it gave off an even worse image. At least they were thinking of issues of sustainability and energy use etc to drive their design process.

  • alejandro

    I agree with Terry

  • Ultra man

    Wondering what happen to french wit and sense of inovative design….?
    20 years after the TGB, again and again this metalic minimalism for the Service Publique…
    Reveillez vous les Francais, vous avez 20 annees de retard technologique et conceptuel a digere !!!

  • Partick Bateman

    I always agree with Terry!