The University of Paris-Descartes wishes to replace its two IUT amphitheaters that stand in the interior courtyard of 143, avenue de Versailles, in the 16th arrondissement. The physical location of the two buildings, constructed in the heart of an urban islet, and resting atop the university parking lots, confronted Atelier Zündel & Cristea with a complex exercise in conceiving and planning their operation. They decided the new edifice should faithfully superimpose itself over the layout of the existing parking lot, while clearing around itself a smooth space, manageable and comprehensible by its users. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Vertically, a reduction in the height of the amphitheaters would contribute to an improved perception of their whole. Economizing the costs of elevators, rendering the areas compact and dense, without negatively affecting the building’s functioning, moreover bringing each building’s functions to a level in correspondence with their usage, are ethical acts of architecture.
Aesthetically speaking, the project aims to produce a maximum of effect through providing visual and emotional comfort. The principal views from the two lecture halls and their offices are oriented due south, toward a boundary of maintained greenery; natural light is filtered through to the principal spaces by shaded verandas, and even the parking lot can profit from natural light in certain places by the presence of fire-resistant glass flooring.
Within this particular project, the constructed volume is as important as the residual emptiness that will be generated around it. The clear demarcation of the perimeter in our project addresses the problem of the site’s difficulty in being read and perceived. We designed the most compact of forms possible, covering it with the single material of wood. We provided transparency and diagonal views through an allocation of plain solid masses in the upper part of the structure, while bay windows rest at level with the view in the lower part. This distribution allows for a view and transparency throughout the internal courtyard. We decided to propose a smooth and serene architecture with the aim of improving the quality of the whole.
Our building is designed with a metal frame clad and insulated by paneling prefabricated in wood. This choice stems from two concerns: on one hand it will limit the weight of construction, enabling a “light” construction; and on the other it takes into account the actual construction work’s unfolding on site. For a light and fast construction, one as less disruptive to the IUT’s functioning as possible, we envisioned a “dry” construction, through assembling the paneling beforehand in the workshop. This manner of construction allows a reduction in the time of actual construction work on site, while solving the site’s accessibility difficulties.
Architect: Atelier Zündel & Cristea Location: Paris Descartes University, Paris, France Client: Paris Descartes University Consultants: Forgue, Choulet, Batiserf Construction cost: 2.8 M€ Gross area: 906 m² Project: Two 200-seat university lecture halls Progress: Under construction, completion 2012