With urbanistic planning in mind, the proposal by Baumschlager Eberle for the law courts of Caen redefines a new domain in the center of the city. In collaboration with Atelier d’Architecture Pierre Champenois, the shape of the building agrees not only with the tradition but of course with the more complex duties of law courts in the 21st century. An orthogonal pattern constitutes the base for the organization of the needs of the law courts. More images and architects’ description after the break.
. It comes with a quadratic shape which comprises several duties and responsibilities: The cube underlines by its form the importance of jurisdiction by the means of architecture. The fundamental necessity of justice and the elementary methods of architecture correspond with each other as is a long tradition in Europe. The cube also puts an accent very clearly to the location where it is placed and the surrounding. The building constitutes with its public areas a self-confident district within an area which is under development now.
The main rooms are adjacent to the facades; the corridors throughout the building always end at the facades. This results in good lighting, and a comfortable working area is provided. But this pattern involves more than a pragmatic and optimized organization of the building – it involves an experience of interior space. From the main entrance, there is an axis leading directly to the middle of the building. This circular center spans all 5 floors; it is the heart of the law courts, a landmark and also a parameter for the interior area. A horizontal pendant to this vertical elevation depicts the first floor where the court rooms are positioned.
The floor accommodates the two storey high court rooms but it is also surrounded by an external and comfortable layer for the attending audience of the court. This layer is completely glazed and provides a direct view to the entrances of the interior court rooms. At night it seems this public area is floating above the ground, at day the prominence of this storey is also accented by the interruption of the facades.
In so doing, the new law courts of Caen in Northern France communicate a message to its users and passer-byes: It is the message of transparency, of a stringent shape and essential architectural means. Therefore it is not so far away from what a European civilization expects from jurisdiction. But our civilization today expects even more from a building – it should simply add to the longevity of our world. The buildings sustainable strategy at Caen is driven by two axis: the project offers both high comfort to the users and optimal energy performance.
The passive and active strategies ensure the building to achieve low energy consumption: a very compact volume, a double skin façade system and a bioclimatic atrium helps to reduce heat loss while increasing thermal inertia; geothermal heat pump brings both heating and cooling by using renewable energy. Materials were selected for their sanitary qualities and low impact on the environment. Rainwater harvesting, natural ventilation of the waiting hall and a global bioclimatic conception are many elements which will help the building to reach this sustainable challenge. Construction will start in the third quarter of 2013, and will be completed by the third quarter of 2015.
Architects: Baumschlager Eberle
Location: Caen, France
Associate Architects: Atelier d’Architecture Pierre Champenois
Public Partner: Ministere de la Justice
Private Partner: Cicobail / Caisse D’epargne
Landscape Architect: Sempervirens
Structural and Acoustical Engineering: Sogea Nord-Ouest
HVAC: EGIS bâtiments Centre-Ouest
Sustainability: Egis Concept – Elioth
Economist: Prisme Ingenierie
Technical Inspection: Bureau Veritas
General Contracting: Sogea Nord-Ouest
Maintenance: Vinci Facilities
Project Team: Manon Vaillé (chef de projet), Jean-Marie Lesène, Marc-Antoine Servella, Benjamin Grousselas, Cyrill Demonts
Competition Team: Pierre Champenois, Charlotte Chebassier, Mihaela Stanescu, Marc Servella, Bernard Brennan, Sacha Discors
Program: Law courts
Surface Area: 9,242m²
Construction Cost: 21,080,000 €