Location: Paris, France
Architects: vib architecture
Architects In Charge: Bettina Ballus, Franck Vialet
Design Architects: Antoine Bourdeau, Marlène Bourque, Célia Horn
Construction Architect: Célia Horn
Sustainable Certification: Plan Climat Ville de ParisPlan
Engineering + Construction Method and Coordination: Jacobs France
Acoustics: Peutz & Ass
Façade Design Consultant: Arcora
Contractors: Sogea TPI (Buildings) – Ibau Hamburg (Process)
Area: 4,478.0 sqm
Photographs: Stéphane Chalmeau, Daniel Moulinet
The project is located 5 meters away from Paris eastern ring road, at the end of Zac Rive Gauche’s large development district. The project, which transforms an industrial facility into an urban sculpture, is to be considered as the first step of a process to transform the new Bruneseau Nord site. 3 conditions were called for to make this building possible:
• the urban and political vision to extend the city to the East with a pedestrian link from Paris to Ivry. The existing centre was linked to the rail network via a single rail line that cut diagonally through the neighborhood. The new building obviously needed to be moved to allow for this new large development.
• the desire to develop this forgotten industrial area, despite the difficulties linked to the many existing networks and technical issues or urban rules, as well as the decision to maintain this industrial activity within the city’s new fabric.
• the presence of a contractor such as Vinci TPI, specialized in civil engineering structures was needed to raise the main silos and gave us a rare chance to design buildings with unusual tools and resources, usually reserved for large infrastructure design.
The architect project
This project is the first step to develop Paris’s new Eastern district. The initial question for us clearly was to insert the project in the coming urban project and bring in «bold design» to the industrial plant. The project was long to design at first, due to high stakes and its noticeable location along Paris’ ring road – Europe’s busiest freeway with an average 300.000 vehicles a day.
The main silos had to be inserted in the one and only position that allowed for all existing flux and networks to work. Then the quality control center , because it had to rest on ground, was slided underneath the “peripherique”. The project had become quite simple: the whole program, including offices and quality control center, was inserted in 5 different indiviual silos, all made of concrete, rising from the ground surfaced with concrete too.
The Scale of the Building
Although it uses common technical language and fittings, the building has been transformed into a unique work space, dedicated to the material it contains: the silos, the stair tour, the offices, the test center and the ground too, are all made from concrete. The material reveals much of its plastic potential. Not one element that stands out. The project is a whole, it is alive, a sort of abstraction of bodies rising from the ground and attracting each other into one unique place.
Many techniques used for construction
The project relies on many different uses of concrete. The main silos and the vertical tower were cast in slipform, a robust method to do this. The platform, rose by 2,5 cm per hour which took 3 weeks, day and night, in February, and 2 weeks in June 2013 to get to the top of each of the 37m silos, with an average of 15 workers constantly on deck. The shells for the horizontal silos were prefabricated, then trucked-in, lifted, rolled and fitted in no more than 24 hours for each entity.
For the office and quality control center, the light at either end of the ‘silos’ was not enough for all work spaces. The opening on the shells had to be big enough to bring in light but small enough to keep the mass and the surface. The polygonal shape chosen for these openings was imagined as a form of abstraction of two different ideas: the shape of the stones that are used in making the concrete as one, or a mineral fragment or a broken rock as another.
The vertical lift/stair tower is the most visible piece of the building, that acts as a signal by rising only 5 meters from the ring road. The design for the openings is similar but they were fitted with a simple inox mesh. We wanted the openings to widen up and lighten up as the tower rises, in contrast to the main silos in the background.