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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.

University Campus Saint-Charles – Phase 2 in Montpellier, France by HELLIN-SEBBAG, ARCHITECTES ASSOCIES

 
March 9th, 2018 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: HELLIN-SEBBAG, ARCHITECTES ASSOCIES

Some phase 1 photographs, as a reminder

The Hellin-Sebbag office began work in 2004 on the Saint-Charles Hospital site at Montpellier.
Delivered in 2011, the first phase converted the general hospital into university buildings for graduates and researchers in the Faculty of Humanities, Paul Valéry University.

Patience and perseverance were necessary to restore new life to a site at this scale.

Entrance facade on esplanade, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

  • Architects: HELLIN-SEBBAG, ARCHITECTES ASSOCIES
  • Project: University Campus Saint-Charles – Phase 2
  • Location: Montpellier, France
  • Photography: Jean-Pierre PORCHER
  • Client: State – Ministry of Education, Research and Innovation, Montpellier Education Authority
  • Joint Contractors: FABRICA TRACEORUM : Heritage architect
  • For Project: GEC Ingénierie : Fluid engineering

Circulation along entrance hall, at level 1, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

  • Management: 
    • Structure: Bets Aigoin
    • Quantity surveyor: Cabinet Le Douarin
  • Phase 1:
    – Conversion of a 17th-century hospital into teaching class and offices for undergraduate students and researchers including university library and cafeteria
  • Phase 2: presented here
    – Conversion of the “Aile des Incurables”, into lecture theatre and researches of Humanities.
       The building provide a “Maison des Sciences de l’Homme”, a department of archaeology  and department of egyptology.
    – Ground floor: main reception building, lecture theatre with 100 seats, 4 seminar rooms with 80 seats, archaeology library, conservatory
    – First and second floor: workspaces to be shared by researchers in social sciences, humanities  and archaeology
  • Surface Area: 6,377 sq m net floor area
  • Construction Cost: € 9.95 M exc. VAT at april 2017
  • Schedule:

    • Phase 1: handover Septembre 2011 – Site work 36 months
    • Phase 2: handover April 2017 – Site work 33 months

Cafeteria, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

The second phase redevelops 6,377 m2 within wing called the “Incurables”. The ground floor accommodates the public for international conferences and symposiums while the research work spaces are located on the first and second floors.

These meetings require seminar rooms on the ground floor, but especially, an amphitheatre which seemed almost impossible within this 18th century building with an unsuited load-bearing structure. However, we succeeded in inserting a 100-seat amphitheatre that occupies the full width of the central wing of this very narrow (10.5m wide) and vaulted (5.3m high) building.

While the first building, dating from the 17th century and originally intended for the poor, had been built crudely in rendered rubble stone with few façade openings, the 18th century wing of the Incurables was built in cut stone, with many decorative elements (medallions, parapets, cornices) and large windows. Despite their functional similarities, the two buildings have qualitative differences which led to two different architectural approaches.

General view overlooking the Mediterranean garden, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Campus access forecourt: Phase 1 on left – Phase 2 on right, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

The Mediterranean garden: existing plane trees have been preserved, but to create a visual continuity between the Incurables courtyard and the street slightly above, white concrete terraces were developed to accommodate a diversified native vegetation.

Winter garden

To plan the room layout on the ground floor, we designed a contemporary extension, a winter garden, made up of lightweight elements: a metal structure, a wooden floor and movable glass strips that enable to see, in transparency from the outside, the beautiful rehabilitated facade of the building.

Motorized Colt glass strips close quickly in case of rain, strong wind or a cold change. They enable to adequately ventilate the space in summer or, on the contrary, to create a greenhouse effect during winter.

South-east corner seen from garden, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Winter garden facade is detached from ground by planted bank, spanned by two footbridges, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Perfumed by orange trees in pots, with its pleasant layout, the winter garden becomes the centrepiece of the building, a transitional space – neither interior nor exterior – between the restored stone building and the beautiful Mediterranean garden. In contrast with the rough surface of the stone, its reflective ceiling contributes to create an atypical space between sky and earth. 

Articulating the old with the contemporary

The contemporary extension was designed as an autonomous box articulated with the old building by “voids” to avoid direct contact. This way the roof, an external surface covered with glass slabs, is separated from the stone facade by a glass roof while the floor is detached from the ground by a planted bank.

Winter garden interior, research centre focus, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Phase 2 stone facade reflected in Phase 1 glazed curtain wall, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

While the amphitheatre and the winter garden display a certain opulence of colours and materials, with their white vaults and poured concrete floor, the entrance hall and circulations  are deliberately treated in a more monastic manner. Similarly, contemporary technical elements, such as lighting or signage, are judiciously integrated to reinstate the sobriety of the former hospital volumes, and reveal their geometric purity.

Due to the “raked” metal structure which supports prefabricated concrete steps, the amphitheatre slips between the thick facades of the building without touching them so as not to alter the volume of the vaults under which it is inserted. Structural glass railings assist to avoid this contact.

Articulation detail between glazed facade and stone facade, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Treatment of junction by glass roof that allows daylight to lick existing facade, highlighting stone medallions, Treatment of junction by glass roof that allows daylight to lick existing facade, highlighting stone medallions, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Convection heating is located under the seats, whose colours takes up the palette in the building (green on 1st floor, blue on 2nd floor) to create a serene space within the volume of white arches.

Acoustics are treated by TEXAA absorbent fabric lining, carpeted floors and reflective or absorbent laminate panels, as required.

Floor and walls are respectively dark and light grey to highlight the curve of vaults underscored by artificial light.
The auditorium also benefits from good lateral daylight on its two elevations. Motorized blinds provide total occultation.

New tiered amphitheatre, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Lecture hall: technical equipment such as screen, lighting or acoustic panels are discreetly integrated to leave white vaults intact, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

In seminar and meeting rooms, the articulation between old and new is systematically highlighted by specific finishes: hollow skirting boards finish the poured concrete floor which does not touch the existing walls. Acoustic panel wall linings are articulated by a wide hollow joint to meet the vaults, acoustic panels, as well as light fittings, are suspended.

The ground floor reference colour yellow is found in several elements.

Thesis room decorated with trompe l’oeil, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Lecture hall: suspended yellow acoustic panels, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Stone facades restoration:

In the 17th century first building, it was necessary to “undertake demolition, rebuild and reinterpret”. In the Incurables wing, much of the work consisted in the restoration of the facades and beautiful stone staircases and restitution of the 18th century joinery requested by the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles (DRAC), Ile-de-France.

Many damaged facade stones had to be replaced. As such, it was necessary to reconstruct several openings modified inadvertently over time and replace many damaged steps on stairs that required the installation on site of a proper stone cutting plant to produce lintels, supports, jambs, steps…

Level 1 circulations, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Stone facade mouldings from ground floor to level 2, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Secondary staircase details, Image Courtesy © Jean-Pierre PORCHER

Image Courtesy © HELLIN-SEBBAG Architectes Associés

Image Courtesy © HELLIN-SEBBAG Architectes Associés

Image Courtesy © HELLIN-SEBBAG Architectes Associés

Image Courtesy © HELLIN-SEBBAG Architectes Associés

Image Courtesy © HELLIN-SEBBAG Architectes Associés

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Categories: Amphitheater, Campus, Research Station, University

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