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.
Lot o7 in Paris, France by ChartierDalix architectes + Brenac & Gonzalez & Associés
April 10th, 2018 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: ChartierDalix architectes + Brenac & Gonzalez & Associés
The building is part of the extremely dynamic renewal that is underway in the Clichy-Batignolles district, an area characterized in part by the convergence of railways leading to the Saint Lazare train station.
In this neighborhood, now well served by new public transportation, the predominance of mixed use programs and services (new courthouse, schools, cinemas, offices and apartment buildings) ensure this building on lot 7 will be surrounded by a quality environment.
Positioned at the edge of the web of train tracks, on the slab partially covering rails void for train storage, the site is inserted between this opening facing the wider landscape and what is becoming a densely built up new urban artery on the other side.
The building was imagined as a telluric body, in dialogue with the major axes of the site, achieved by its radiating in every direction with frank intensity.
The “ribbon” plan offers an open façade in relation with the context of the train tracks, the street and the park. Thus, like a Möbius strip, the exterior and interior spaces interlock on all sides of the building, enabling easy and fluid movement and a visual continuity from the exterior and from the ground floor up to the roof.
All the façades have received the same careful attention to their design, ensuring that they resemble a continuous, homogeneous and unbroken skin.
This ribbon pattern wraps around the entire building, the horizontal lines accentuating the appearance of sedimentary layers.
On each floor the levels appear to be detached from each other, an effect achieved through superposition and setbacks. These recesses result in a stratification which is further emphasized by the staggered terraces, thus avoiding overlooking views.
Each office space also enjoys views into the distance and of the building’s outdoor areas, which function as breathing spaces reaching into the core of the interior layouts.
Morphological irregularities punctuate the building, breaking up its linearity. These features, through the relation between solid and void, define the building’s relation with its area, its connection with the ground, as well as its mass. The structure’s telluric character can be appreciated differently depending on one of two possible viewpoints.
The first viewpoint is from the densely built up urban street. On this side the building gradually stoops toward the public space drawing closer to the neighborhood by means of open terraces. These staggered terraces overlook the neighboring city blocks and dialog with the visual breaks that open toward the Martin Luther King Park.
The side facing the train tracks has a distinctive topography. The building thrusts straight up from the void created by the web of tracks in what resembles layers of sedimentary rock that have accumulated above this hollow area. The uneven landscape, the relief, the depth of perspectives and the vast empty spaces of this very particular urban geography, provided the inspiration for the variations in the building’s volumes.
Working beside the train tracks is unlike working anywhere else. Here, by framing this sweeping landscape, the relation with the void which this made possible becomes a kinesthetic experience.
Users can take advantage of it in their daily routines. It transforms one’s work habits into a relationship of interior– exterior, emphasized by the horizontal and vertical connection.
A continuously changing skin
The façades are composed of alternating horizontal lines, formed by glazed bays and their solid window aprons. These ribbons vary according to their height. The lower levels, where light is restricted, have full height openings onto the balconies, whereas the upper floors, naturally benefiting from more light, have a lower apron offering panoramic views onto the city.
The whole building, designed with this system, is clad with enameled terra cotta, a reference to the industrial buildings standing along the train tracks. Applied on all the façades, this skin comes alive, its appearance changing according to the orientation of the façades according to the quality of daylight and what is happening in the sky.
Clad in this manner, the building can be understood as a landscape whose contour lines are deformed by the tectonic forces of the interior. The modules were made to measure, the effect of randomness obtained with 3 different molds and arranged according to an algorithm specially developed for this project.
The type of enamel, a relief with vertical grooving and molded edges results in a constantly changing hue reminiscent of paintings by Soulages.
The building opens broadly onto the city. The transparency of the lobby on two levels enables everyone to enjoy the site’s incredible geography. This lobby, designed to match the scale of the building is a bright and airy public space that orients the view onto the panorama of the train tracks, which the terrace, designed as a belvedere also overlooks.
The lobby uses a simple selection of materials. Vals stone laid lengthwise covers the floor and the interior of the staircase like the lining of a garment. The metal structure composed of columns creates a spectacular space with a height of eight meters. These cruciform metal structural elements imbue the space with a subtle vibrancy. The treatment of the base of the columns hides their spring supports. Technical elements also disappear underneath the continuous material surfaces.
Fluidity of usage
A reflexion on the domestic ambiance of work spaces led to an alternative design for circulations encouraging friendliness and spontaneity. Thus, exterior and interior spaces have been interwoven across all façades of the building, facilitating a smooth flow from one area to the next and ensuring visual continuity from the ground floor up to the roof, where a hanging garden offers an entirely new kind of work space.
The system of ribbon windows on each floor of the building varies, increasing the penetration of natural light, which is greater than average on every side (glazed from 43% in the upper floors to 93% on the lower ones). For optimum comfort and real contact with the outside, every other window opens to the outside for natural ventilation. In addition, all sides exposed to direct sunlight are equipped with exterior blinds, which are connected to the BEMS.
The absence of air-conditioning is compensated for by an exposed (varnished) heat insulation slab in the offices. Heat absorbed during the day is evacuated to the exterior, outside office hours, via water cooled by adiabatic drycoolers.
In winter, this system contributes a great deal to the buildings heat supply by circulating water at a temperature of approximately 27°C. Users can adjust the temperature by means of natural convection baseboard heaters installed every other section of the framework.
This system generates no ventilation energy. Utility networks are distributed under the false floors to maximize transfers between concrete and the volume to be cooled during the summer and thereby take maximum advantage of inertia of the structure’s inertia.
This energy concept was chosen for the quality of the thermal transfer between warm water and concrete, which is superior to that between air and concrete. Furthermore, the possibility of vaporizing this water on high-temperature nights to cool the batteries of the adiabatic dry coolers meaning the system can remain in use even during the most sensitive periods.
This system is completed with ceiling fans custom made for this operation, which made it possible to increase their thermal performance and reduce noise while also rendering them more aesthetically pleasing. Under the concrete slabs, made-to-measure acoustical slabs allow for the layout of offices according to a standard framework. The false floors allow for the regular installation of the technical elements required for a functioning office building and also allow the height of the floors to rise up to three meters beneath the slab.
Work spaces are the result of an aesthetic that combines the thermal, light and acoustical goals while allowing for a standard division of the office spaces.