Le Monolithe / MVRDV


Architects: MVRDV
Location: ,
Project area: 32,500 sqm
Project year: 2004-2010
Photographs: Courtesy of MVRDV


‘Le Monolithe’, an energy efficient mixed-use urban block located in the development area Confluence at the southern tip of Lyon’s Presqu’île, has reached completion. The structure with a total surface of 32.500 m2 combines social housing, rental property, a residence for disabled people, offices and retail. The block is composed of five sections, each one designed by a different architect, following the MVRDV masterplan: Pierre Gautier, Manuelle Gautrand, ECDM and Erik van Egeraat. Landscape architects West 8 designed the public plaza. MVRDV designed the head section which advertises over the full façade the European integration by quoting the EU constitution. ‘Le Monolithe’ has been realized by ING Real Estate Development and Atemi.


In 2004, ING Real Estate Developers had invited a group of international architects to design the masterplan, for which MVRDV was chosen as winner. Based on this masterplan, each architect was asked to design a section which together form ‘Le Monolithe’. The urban superblock is a mixed-use development comprising a mix of social and rental housing, offices and underground parking. The block is characterised by a large interior court with a raised public space overlooking the city, the new marina and a park, in this way resembling the French classical ‘Grand Gallérie’. The block is divided into five sections, each one designed by a different architect in order to achieve diversity and architectural variety. MVRDV is responsible for the head section in the south at the waterfront. Each part is unique in material, composition and architectural expression. The project forms part of the urban regeneration project ‘Lyon Confluence’, a 150 hectare site located at the southern tip of Lyon’s Presqu’île, where the rivers Rhône and Saône merge.


South building:

The interiors of MVRDV’s south facing building are protected from the sun by means of aluminium shutters as a reference to traditional local architecture. Apartments inside Le Monolithe offer a great diversity in order to attract different groups of inhabitants making the block a reflection of Lyon’s population. Offices are divided into separate units of min. 500 m² which are accessed by three vertical circulation cores, providing individual access. Each unit allows for a flexible fit out, depending on the tenants’ needs and requirements. All spaces are naturally lit and ventilated.


In June 2005, when France and The Netherlands voted against the European Constitution, MVRDV decided to redesign the façade and integrate a reminder of the values, ideals and needs of the European Union. When all shutters are closed, the first article of the European Constitution can be read: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”


It aims to advocate a possible ‘Yes’ for Europe in days of protectionism, accompanying the collective EU spirit of the gathered architects. The adjacent sections were designed by French and Dutch architects Pierre Gautier, Manuelle Gautrand, ECDM and Erik van Egeraat. Dutch landscape architects West 8 designed the public space.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Le Monolithe / MVRDV" 09 Dec 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=94810>
  • J

    Living in Lyon I can say that we are really glad to see a place where M.Fuksas, MVRDV, C.De Portzamparc, Jakob&McFarlane, and others meet. La confluence may be a bit too much of various contemporary architecture but it’s for architectures good. And MVRDV scheme is quite nice btw.

  • Leonardo Ximenes

    Good choice of architects, although I’m not sure I like the ‘collage’ end result.
    I can’t remember any successful design where different teams were assigned different parts of the building. Maybe a better aproach would be a collaboration where each team is assigned to develop different aspects of the building (structure; shell; material palette; interior design; etc) this way each architect would be compelled to work within the scope determined by the previous step.

  • Cristobal Martinez

    Could you tell me what is the dark material on the interior facade?

  • James

    boring, brutish cliché

  • Nicolux Primus

    Burk ! Damn it !
    The masterplan is interesting but architecture quite poor.
    Go and see the details. It’s desapointing and really sad. A packaging architecture good for medias but not for reality !

  • Drovsky

    It looks like to a giant and not fun baby toy. Come on MVRDV! you are very talented architects, I’m sure that you can do something really better for the people and for contemporary architecture.

  • Dennis

    buildings like these make the general public lose respect for architects

  • parand