The completion of a building in the planning project of Saclay Paris is a unique opportunity to be one of the markers of the future center of excellence established on the plateau. The uniqueness of the site, and it’s present and future characteristics, make it an interesting emerging area.
The landscape was the starting point of a project created with the idea of being surrounded by nature. The lack of construction dominates; the site is large, distended. The use of territory is essential here: to spread out would be to trivialize the landscape. Our first priority is to give value to the abundance of space.
We also wanted to display the economy with which our building uses the territory, by proposing a compact architecture, a mass which seeks to use with moderation an area of great value. Here, wealth is space. We have therefore designed a project aware of its footprint, just as conscious of its siting as if it were in a rare and fragile environment. It is the landscape that unifies and saturates the architecture. We are dealing with a rural urbanity, with paradoxical planning that provides both the advantages of the city and the country in the same place.
The resulting project is dense and compact, a volume which unifies a diversity of programs. The building is treated as a block framed by blocks of green, a building perfectly inscribed in a geometric landscape. The organization of our siting helps create structure within the landscape, a cluster where buildings are not solitary objects, but elements of a whole. Our project fits within the logic of blocks, a constructed block responding to the planted blocks, in a project where vegetation constitutes mass, along with what is built.
The nature of the project is not a compromise, but a contrast. There is consequently an un-fragmented volume organized in layers, developing a system of simple alignments which give unity and clarity to each program. The built volumes respond to vegetal masses in and around the project, create alignments within an urban landscape offering a new balance between mineral and vegetable.
The site is a destination, a place that possesses and defines its own temporality. The question of time also organizes the architectural proposition. The idea of countenance, of interlude, of a place where we spend a few days or weeks, compels one to shape a moment that remains as a singular experience, not trivial. As a destination, the campus offers distance from the everyday in order to better focus on the courses. The campus is remote from the frame of work, family and routine, and creates a lifestyle for each visitor to appropriate.
There is a profound, dense internality which we wanted to create; it is an architecture which proposes a community within the culture of the enterprise. Our proposal defines a collective lifestyle which remains unique from everyday life.
The inspiration of time, of a series of episodes which cross in time and space define the campus as a vessel, a place for adventure. More than luxury, it is the realization of shared values that creates an extraordinary environment.
It is therefore a building that contains a multiplicity of different living spaces, where each of these programs is considered as an individual moment within the day of a visitor, where the intimate and collective superpose and intermingle without altercation. This is again not to trivialize anything, not the effort of training, or the moments of exchange and interaction, or the time for reflection and meditation. It is a place of intense collective life where needs for isolation and personal space are also met.
Plateau de Saclay
Palaiseau – France
Architect : ECDM architectes
Team : ECDM, Calq Architecture, JPM Cofer, Thor ingénierie, Mazet & Associés, Aptec MO, Setec TPI, Ac2r, VP Green, Labeyrie, Acoustique Vivié et Associés, Cigüe, C&E ingénierie