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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

AEROVILLE in Charles de Gaulle Airport, France by Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA

October 24th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA


The Paris area airport – Charles de Gaulle – has become the first airport hub in continental Europe because of its advanced technology, its flux of freight and travelers, and its inestimable potential for growth.

Image Courtesy © Jean-Phileppe Mesguen

  • Architects: Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA
  • Project: AEROVILLE
  • Location: Charles de Gaulle Airport, France
  • Photography: Jean-Phileppe Mesguen, Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA
  • Planning authority: Aéroports de Paris
  • Client: Unibail-Rodamco
  • Site: Roissy-en-France, Le Tremblay-en-France
  • Program: shopping and leisure center, concept multiplex movie theater by EuropaCorp
  • Commission: to completion
  • Area: 110 000 sqm
  • GLA: 84 000 sqm
  • Budget: 355 M€ (excluding tax)
  • Completion: October 17, 2013

Image Courtesy © Jean-Phileppe Mesguen

  • Principal architect: Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA
  • Interior Design: Saguez & Partners
  • Façade graphic design: deValence
  • Construction project management: Artelia
  • Structural engineering: Terrel
  • MEP engineering: Barbanel
  • Sustainable engineering: Green Affair
  • Façade engineering: Van Santen
  • Roads system and urban public utilities: SNC Lavalin
  • Landscape design: Compagnie du paysage
  • Exterior lightening design: Ingelux
  • Interior lightening design: Carribou Concept
  • Acoustics engineering: Avel Acoustique
  • Quantity surveyor: DAL
  • Fire safety: CSD Faces

Image Courtesy © Jean-Phileppe Mesguen

This airport zone – consisting of 10 business parks, multiple commercial zones, and professional fairgrounds – is the first employment center in the Ile-de-France region, after La Défense, with over 120,000 employees. The Grand Paris projects (CDG Express or double loop) will soon reinforce the power of the “hub”, a node of global interconnection, and a threshold for the capital and the country.

Image Courtesy © Jean-Phileppe Mesguen

This area has suffered from a lack of identity of space and centrality which could offer its users the facilities of a city center: services, shopping, entertainment, and culture. To overcome this absence, Aéroports de Paris, in partnership with the Unibail-Rodamco group have for a decade envisioned a long awaited mixed-use and entertainment complex at the fringes of the airport zone, less than 10 minutes by car or bus for employees of the area, and for travelers and residents of Roissy and Tremblay. Less than 30 minutes by car, there is a population of 1.8 million people that is affected by the project, between the highly dense zones towards Paris and the more scattered zones to the north.

Image Courtesy © Jean-Phileppe Mesguen

In 2010, Unibail-Rodamco appointed Philippe Chiambaretta/PCA with the design and development of this complex called Aeroville. After less than four years of studies and construction, the project is open today.


Aeroville, shopping and entertainment center, inspired by the imagination of the voyage will be the “city center” of the previously untraceable, vast zone. With fragmented blocks, it is an open space in which the airport inoculated its cosmopolitan dimension of travel and the city, this of flux and plural activity.  The airport is the iconic space of a new migratory global culture. Transforming Aeroville into a metaphor of the journey joining this global usability.

Image Courtesy © Jean-Phileppe Mesguen


The site of Aeroville is at the edge of the airport zone at the extremities of the paths of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle 2. This plot of 11 hectares in the heart of the freight zone is large enough to contain terminals 2E and 2F, Le Forum des Halles, or part of the Marais district of Paris.

Image Courtesy © Jean-Phileppe Mesguen


The Aeroville mall is designed in the manner of a city rail system, making a clear distinction between the public space and the built environment. The commercial program around the interior streets is fragmented into blocks of varying heights and dimensions referring to the islands of the city. The project is in contrast with the usual proportions of this type of program, flat and uniform, and consistent with its function as a participant to travel and escape. The opening of the building and its character, non-generic and non-repetitive, form a space devoted to commerce, a public form that promotes exchanges and strolls.

Image Courtesy © Jean-Phileppe Mesguen


The architectural design presents the originality of this type of development solely on a single level of retail around a covered street in the form of the number eight, along which are arranged the program components.

This inner street level is accessed from rue des Buissons, facing the bus stop and offices of the freight area.

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA

Parking is hidden under and on street level. The project has taken part of the sloping site, and the north entrance to the parking is on the natural terrain, providing natural light and ventilation to the parking lot. The parking for staff and the cinema are located in the center. The surroundings are freed from vehicles and are vegetated allowing the reconstitution of an ecosystem.

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA


Similar to being inside an airport, the interior street has natural light and views to the sky through a glass roof designed to reduce artificial lighting and avoid thermal warming. The interior street widens at several points to form nodes that are more illuminated and open to the highest points of the ceilings, which correspond to the five points of vertical links between the parking and the center: the hubs. The path of 1.1 km long is largely illuminated by continuous windows and is projected by the rhythm of the plugs on the façade.

The design of the building has been fully carried out by the PCA agency. The interior, in addition to the volume and spatial organization, the ceilings and windows are also designed by PCA. The decoration and signage of the mall has been developed by Saguez&Partners

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA


Unlike traditional shopping centers, which are introverted in design, the inner streets of Aeroville extend to the façade at several points, forming an emergence, to avoid the effects of a closed universe on itself and to break the monotony of a long façade and continue for more than a kilometer long. The monolith is divided and opens on the exterior of the façade through punctures towards the skies, inspired by airport jet bridges, which are transformed here into lookout points offering views of the landscape and airplanes flying overhead.

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA


The envelope of the blocks, inspired by the codes of the city center, was thought out with the image of the periphery. International brands have become a major component of the global imagery. Over the last fifteen years, luxury brands have developed an architectural expression of their image through flagship stores, designer buildings have contributed to research on the building envelopes of sophisticated commercial buildings. These envelopes play on the finesse of materials and richness of the skin consisting of several membranes. Playing with the simulacrum, Aeroville itself is an association of previous flagships, whose names and logos, signed by the graphic design duo deValence, are composed of simple letters.

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA

A, E, R, O, V, I, L, L, E or the original monogram of the imaginary brand. In “tattooing” graphically the skin of the shopping center, these letters refer to this fictitious brand that would be Aeroville, transforming the object of international consumption into collective creation.


Mastering the sealing

  • Use of serviced land and non-agricultural land
  • Overlay the building and parking to free outdoor spaces
  • Controlling water discharges through a retention basin of 4500 m3

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA

 Respecting and valuing natural resources

  • Limit earthworks
  • Making a compensatory landscape promoting biodiversity
  • Reducing the impact on the water cycle
  • Use of geothermal energy

Reduced energy needs

  • Refresh the external environment and create masks with a landscaped space
  • Protect against solar radiation by controlling the size of the windows
  • Naturally ventilate parking

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA


The structural specificity of the project was driven by its sprawl and the limited duration of construction. The use of prefabrication helped respect the quick deadline. The very large size of the building, not allowing the construction level by level, imposed a device capable of providing a definitive stability with limited phases without the need for ulterior interventions on the work. The structural core of the building has been built for every level in advance.

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA

The principle developed to allow for this feat consists of implementing the prefabricated posts at full height (10m and 16m), whose stability and bracing is done directly by the embankment into its foundation (almost all the bracings of this buildings is provided by these embankments). Since their installation, the posts are stable and well braced and can support two or three floor levels. No temporary bracing and shoring is required.

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA

Only the structure crossing the mall and parking is an exception to this rule. Large spans and continuity in volumes naturally leads to a realization in the metal frame, which are also prefabricated.

The North node is an exception to this rule; the 45m diameter required a reconstituted/welded metal frame on site with a glass canopy of 20m in diameter is the centerpiece.

Image Courtesy © Philippe Chiambaretta / PCA

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Categories: Restaurant, shopping center, Theater

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