Architects: Beckmann-N’Thépé Architects
Location: Marne-la-Vallée, France
Architect In Charge: Hélène Méhats
Design Team: Fabio Cummaudo, Wilfried Daufy, Anne-Catherine Dufros, Marc Durand, Nicolas Gaudard, Thamila Hamiti, David Malaval, David Tajchman, Frédéric Taupin
Assistant Architects: Amélie Authier, Maïté Dupont, Li Fang, Linna Lay, Laetitia Pignol
Area: 8,670 sqm
Client: Marne-la-Vallée University
Photographs: Olivier Amsellem
The Beckmann-N’Thépé agency chose an audacious strategy for the design of the new Marne-la-Valléeuniversity library, which resembles a mound of earth ‘torn from its natural environment,’ in harmony withits surroundings. ‘Between naturalism and terror, ‘the Marne-la-Vallée Library puts us in touch with ourdreams – active, joyous, sometimes disturbing, comforting, but always salutary’ – Aldric Beckmann.
The new central library was built as part of an ambitious public regeneration project, dedicated to researchand further education, and focused on making university centres more attractive.The nerve centre of the university, the library will offer a new quality of life for students, with places for1200 readers. Suspended above a water garden, large areas of colour juxtapose gold and cement.
The library is located on a remarkable site, the High House Farm. This historic place, which dates fromthe 17th century, is surrounded, like the central courtyard, by a moat, two elements which bestow a specialatmosphere. The new Marne la Vallée library conforms to the latest environment requirements, andhas received the Haute Qualité Environnementale certificate. It has been designed with the conservationand the regeneration of its historic and physical heritage in mind. The contemporary architecture coexistsand dialogues with the historic architecture, a confrontation that is dynamic and convivial: the forecourtpressreleaseoctober 11th, 2012© Olivier Amsellem© Olivier Amsellemis home to a work by the artist Krijn de Koning, fulfilling the obligation to devote 1% of the budget fora public building on a cultural intervention.
The two parts of the building are intentionally different. The lower part, the entrance, is simple, light andrectilinear. The materials used are thick glass and steel. This part supports the upper part – the readingrooms. This space, raised earth, in dark brown cement, is pierced by gilded glass niches and patios whichbring in natural light. For Aldric Beckmann, ‘the rocky fragment of the library asserts a beauty that comesfrom harmony and seduction which work subjectively on the viewer who is affected and moved.‘
The interior is calm and white. The main space is generous and open; an atrium, a majestic staircase, anddiscrete planting link the internal spaces with the external landscape: a water garden and low hills providethe public with places dedicated to reading.