Text description provided by the architects. The Montreuil Polytechnic (IUT) extension is located on a site undergoing profound change: densification of the built environment, urban boulevard, arrival of the tramway, and the regeneration of a neighbourhood in difficulty.
The project consists of two distinct, independent functions: the Polytechnic extension (computer science, public relations and management) and a university cafeteria (CROUS). These are interwoven into a single and identifiable building of 4 partial storyies. Its regular volume comes alive through the reflections from mirror polished stainless steel joinery just as by the play of shadow and light that reveals a weave of several grey brick configurations.
Insulated externally, moulded solid brick is the principal building material (elevations and paving) for its ecological characteristics and its thermal, climatic and acoustical qualities but also because over the years, it keeps its original colour other than the patina of time without any special maintenance.
This dark and compact rectangle, hollowed out to let the light in, opens onto a wide central patio prolonged by a covered square that gives access to the Polytechnic hall and CROUS cafeteria. In contrast with the external envelope, the patio elevations are clad in white glazed bricks which, together with the stainless steel, give the project a luminous and bright centre. The brightness of these spaces (white polished concrete and white marble resin ground finish) accentuates from the street the transparency of the building that opens the Polytechnic onto the city.
The compactness of the project did not prevent the creation of a garden planted with trees at ground floor level open to all and visible from the upper levels. This “unscheduled” component creates a microclimate area, the internal vector of the good quality of life and use. By creating a sunny but ventilated place (north/south natural ventilation across the covered square), it provides protection from differences in temperature and luminosity. Open on the northwest of the sheltered square, it is closed on the three other sides to protect it from the dominant winds (southwest and northeast).
The ground floor works in a bipartite way. A long internal-external wall clad with anodized aluminium cassettes marks this boundary. Its stamped and drilled design motive reinterprets the geometrical figures of the glazed bricks. It encircles the opaque functions and provides a backdrop to the open spaces, delimiting two zones: - the open public zone consisting of the open or sheltered square and the central garden that serves the transversal functions and ensures the conviviality of the place. - the opaque logistics zone accessed by the service yard that innervates the CROUS and Polytechnic and accommodates the kitchen and service areas.
The design concept of the upper levels of the project lies within a distributive, mono-oriented arrangement in reaction to the site orientation just as the strong internal contribution inherent in the teaching of computer science. The circulation and convivial spaces are located to the south, whereas the lecture rooms and offices are oriented to the north, resulting in the optimization of solar energy, reduction of energy consumption and a real quality of life and use. The integration of furniture and way finding determines the atmospheres that underline the architectural concept.
In the south, the mainly opaque facades (75% solid), punctuated by large sliding windows, generously admit direct light into the circulation and upper level lounges. The warmth and contrast of these stimulating spaces are emphasized in yellow and black. The problem with partition bases, and the inevitable stains inherent to the vocation and use the building, is dealt with by means of a painted stencil motive whose graduated density animates the walls. The typography and the reference to computer binary coding recall the teaching in the institution. Already present in the elevation treatment, this pixelization theme is declined in the general treatment of way finding.
To the north, elevations are generously perforated (50% voids). Thus, classrooms and offices take advantage of a diffuse light that provides a quiet and soothing atmosphere, supported by the choice of soft and slightly cooler shades (sky blue, aniseed and white) conducive to concentration and the assimilation of knowledge. All classrooms comprise an entire wall section treated in white Idea paint (for the first time in Europe) for video projection and allows to write directly with dry felt-tips on the entire wall surface.