The Architect's Newspaper's Facades+ conference kicked off today in New York and wasted no time getting into the action. French architect Dominique Perrault opened the conference with a keynote discussing a number of buildings from around the world (three of which are featured here), each utilizing facade systems in different ways, ranging from below-grade skins to "tree-like" designs. An overarching theme of the projects Perrault presented was the use of the facade as a democratizing tool that filtered between the public and private realms, defining spaces both inside and out. An example of this could be seen with the refurbishment of Pont de Sèvres Towers (now know as "CityLights"), a collection of three office high-rises in Boulogne-Billancourt, France. Here, "the facade follows you into the building," said Perrault, explaining how the predominantly glass-based facade acts as a device that dampens the street/structure threshold. The concept of the threshold, however, prevails. More formal spaces branch out from a triple-height entranceway, likened by Perrault to a "theater" that looks out onto a large plaza in front of the two towers it is nestled between. For the upper reaches of the towers, Perrault prescribed more glass fenestration, the lighting arrangement of which gives the complex its new name. The interiors, meanwhile, were reorganized so that "everybody has a window," thus providing much access to daylight. Come sundown, spotlights illuminate the angled nature of the skin, highlighting its textural qualities. Perrault described the structures' presence on the landscape as “magic mountain.” "Access" was another key element of his speech. Perrault demonstrated how facades contribute to this in a multifaceted way. This could be seen at the Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, where the building is built into the site, divided by a wide, sloping walkway that splits the project's two volumes, seemingly carving its way through the landscape. When designing below grade, Perrault noted that making the most of light is important. The wide path allows light to penetrate fenestration on both sides path. At night, the light emitted from these facades illuminates the outdoor area. Both of these qualities would usually suggest a very open and transparent facade. However, the vertical arrangement of window panels and angular approach to the building obscure views inside. This is necessary, as the walkway is a public street that extends from the local subway station. The area, however, has become a place for student congregation and activity, most notably being a venue for political protests (one of which attracted 3,000 students) against the incumbent South Korean president. "The design of this was initially a geographical statement and now it is a political story," Perrault noted. Keeping with East Asia, Perrault pointed to another project in Asia the Fukoku Life Tower in Osaka, Japan, which features a tapering facade that splays out at the base. This was in response to insurance firm Fukoku's desire to share the base of the of the tower with the public, creating what Perrault called "an atrium for the people," likening the form to that of a tree. "We changed the morphology of the basement, twisting the ‘trunk of the tree’ and connecting with the urban fabric which resulted in a very pure geometry," Perrault said. "The world is not flat, and never is the facade!" Another building discussed by Perrault was the Mechanics Hall at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland. An in-depth article on the building and its facade was featured by John Stoughton of The Architect's Newspaper and can be found here.
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This article was originally published on ArchDaily as “Dominique Perrault Proposes "Island Monument" Plan For the Île de la Cité in Paris.” One of two islands in the Parisian Seine, the Île de la Cité is largely known to tourists as little more than the location of such popular destinations as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sainte Chapelle—a fate that belies the island's 2,000-year history as the center of Paris. However, now there are plans underway to restore the whole island to its former importance: under Philippe Bélaval, the French Centre for National Monuments has selected Dominique Perrault Architecture to design a 25-year master plan, titled "Mission Île de la Cité," to bring back the island’s relevance as something more than a dissonant collection of tourist destinations. From Roman times to the 1850s, the Île de la Cité was an active and evolving residential and commercial area, with its gradual, organic urbanization fueled by river trade and militarism. But in the 19th century, when Baron Haussmann’s massive urban planning project in Paris demolished small, winding streets and built large blocks and avenues in their place, the island was not exempt from the overhaul. Today, few of the original residential and commercial communities remain. Arteries that move tourist traffic between landmarks are overcrowded with visitors, while the rest of the island, empty and undesirable to locals, experiences lifelessness and population decline. Haussmann's inaccessible public squares sit unused and hidden by large administrative buildings, and a lack of pedestrian pathways keeps locals from ever crossing the bridge onto the Île de la Cité. The legacy of 19th-century urbanism is the main reason behind the island’s slow degeneration as a residential neighborhood, but it still holds some of its built history and sinuous alleys in a few untouched areas. The Mission Île de la Cité comes at a time when key administrative organizations, such as the Court of Justice, police headquarters, and Hôtel-Dieu, are planning relocations away from the island, meaning large footprints will be left behind for repurposing. Dominique Perrault Architecture was selected for their experience in similar heritage and regeneration work, including such projects as the Pavilion Dufour Château at Versailles and the Pont de Sèvres Towers – Citylights Renovation. The final goal for 2040 is, in the words of the designers, to transform the area, "evolving the island of monuments toward an 'island monument.'" The design aims to represent the island's many layers of history, uses, and interest groups. The proposal is made up of 35 interventions of different scales and programs meant to regenerate locals’ interest in the island, reclaim and reappropriate unused square footage and public space, and honor the area's historic architecture and urbanism. In order to draw public attention to the proposal, the plan for Mission Île de la Cité is currently on display at the Conciergerie Museum until April 17th, along with a book, app, and online virtual guide to the island and its proposed interventions. Written by Isabella Baranyk
Brought to you with support fromThe result of a winning competition entry from 2011, the Mechanics Hall building carefully integrates new program within an existing campus framework at the campus of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The Swiss university is a research institute specializing in physical sciences and engineering. The design-build project—a collaboration between French-based Dominique Perrault Architects and Steiner SA—serves as a laboratory for research scientists, and consists of two wings connected by a large central atrium. The composition of the space is organized by an existing structure, which dates back to the early 1970s. The building incorporates industrial components and data processing technologies while preserving the circulation network and the structural grid established by the original master plan. The main entrance features a 40-foot-high self-supporting structure with a canopy that integrates water drainage through poles that double as lateral bracing members. The facades of the building combine two distinct architectural styles in one common material: a metallic mesh from GKD Metal Fabrics. The architects said this material is both a contextual response to neighboring buildings with operable elements that evoke the scope of mechanical engineering. A mechanical facade along the East, South, and West of the building involves shop-built modules dimensionally benchmarked off a geometry that was established by EPFL’s historic master plan. Each module is composed of an inner thermal and soundproofing layer paired with an outer solar protection layer. The modules are divided into three vertical panels, two of which are sliding with one static. These panels are operated through a building automation system, but can also be maneuvered manually by the user of the building. The solar screen is set at a staggered 5-degree tilt away from the facade, producing a super-scale woven pattern. The architects said the indoor lighting system provides a backlit effect at night, highlighting the translucency of the facade assembly: “With its blinds that shift and turn with the Lausanne skies, the slant of the frames and the weave of the mesh, and the visual clash between the threshold and the outer panels, the building offers a range of rich and contrasting perceptions.” A “historic” facade on the north elevation features original construction that was retrofitted to meet the stringent Swiss-based Minergie energy standard. Wide horizontal window units roughly 5-feet by 10-feet are mounted above an opaque apron mode of horizontal stamped sheet metal. On the interior, the architects said an open office layout was located at the perimeter of the building, and benefits from ample screened glazing: “Comfortable, luminous and spacious rooms are apt spaces for long hours of research work.” Beyond the facade, an atrium facilitates chance encounters and circulation through a series of flared diagonal corridors and straight staircases. The architects said this the circulation scheme of the atrium creates a “fantastic spatial experience” that was inspired by Piranesi’s Capricci: “Superimposed planes and crisscrossing lines create a dynamic tri-dimensional picture, which is deconstructed and reconstructed by each visitor passing through it.” Dominique Perrault will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Facades+ conference in New York City, April 6 and 7. Click here to learn more!
Danish studio Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has been award the commission to design a subway station in Paris. Working with local firm Silvio d’Ascia Architecture, BIG has designed the Pont de Bondy station situated northwest of Paris. The station will one of 68 new stations which will form the Grand Paris Express—a new infrastructure project in the French capital which is due to add 124 miles of rail to the existing subway network. Clad in terra-cotta, the looped "P"-shape design bears an orthogonal frame in section and spans the Ourcq canal, providing a sheltered walkway for pedestrians. Inside the P's counter will be the station area itself, meanwhile the other main entranceway extends along the canal's banks. This will elegantly connect with the sidewalk while passing under the existing tram and road bridge. Keeping with the typographic theme, "PONT DE BONDY" appears to be emblazoned on the structure in BIG's distinctive typeface. The Pont de Body station will be a major part of the Grand Paris Express, being one of nine special "emblematic stations" throughout the new subway network. Conceived by the Société du Grand Paris (a public agency for industrial and commercial transport development), the scheme aims to reduce travel times, link business districts with each other and the center of Paris, as well as connect airports Charles de Gaulle, Orly, and Le Bourget. BIG and Silvio d’Ascia Architecture's station will be part of Line 15, a ring route surrounding Paris, and be the main access point for the business hub that joins the Bondy, Bobigny, and Noisy-le-Sec districts. Other notable architects such as Kengo Kuma and Dominique Perrault are also part of the scheme, with both, like BIG, having won the commission to design a business district node. Kengo Kuma Associates has designed the Gare Saint-Denis Pleyel station located north of Paris and Dominique Perrault Architecture has designed the Gare Villejuif Institut Gustave-Roussy situated south of the capital. Both stations will be on the Line 15 ring route and connect to Pont de Bondy.
A list of seven firms (three French and four international) have been selected by the Ensemble Immobilier Tour Maine-Montparnasse (EITMM) as part of the second round of a competition to redesign the much-maligned Montparnasse Tower in Paris. Built in 1973, the 690-foot (59 story) high-rise has been the regular subject of scorn from Parisians and architects alike. Now Dutch studio OMA; British practice, PLP; French architect Dominique Perrault, and Chicago firm Studio Gang among others are in the running to take on the tower's redesign. Known as the Tour Montparnasse, the building changed city planning policy after its completion 33 years ago. Buildings in the French capital were banned from rising above seven stories two years after it was constructed, a policy that has allowed the skyscraper to remain as Paris's tallest building. The full list of firms vying to re-imagine the tower can be found below:
- Architecture Studio (France)
- Dominique Perrault Architecture (France)
- MAD Architects (China) & DGLA (France)
- nAOM (Franklin Azzi Architecture, Chartier Dalix, Hardel-Lebihan Architectes) (France)
- OMA (The Netherlands)
- PLP Architecture (UK)
- Studio Gang (USA)
“We are offering a new type of work environment, fit for today’s world.” - Dominique Perrault ArchitectThe Pont de Sevres Towers were originally completed in 1975 by architects Badani and Roux-Dorlut, and have since been renamed Citylights following a complete re-structuring by Dominique Perrault Architect. The original buildings are a series of typologically modern high-rise office towers within a barren urban context. The renovation plays a key role in Paris’s recent urban expansion toward Grand Paris, now connected to the city’s public transport system and through a series of pedestrian routes providing a link to the new Trapeze district—a post-industrial revitalization where former factories are being reborn as new office and residential spaces. To physically anchor the towers to the city, the architects planned a range of spaces that open to the community via large plazas, gardens, reception areas, walkways, and communal spaces. “We are offering a new type of work environment, fit for today’s world,” said the architects in a press release. Due to an existing hexagonal floor plate and efficient elevator core layout from the 1970’s, reusing the structure yielded a plan steeped in contemporary logic, efficiency, and reality. Daylight bounces off of nearby tower facades, minimizing the difference between daylight quality in units with northward orientations vs. those with southward orientations. To maximize this effect, the architects integrated lighting and reflective cladding to produce luminous massing volumes. Specifically, 3,400 new facade elements were installed on 366,000 square feet of facade area. Furthermore, the complex contains 81,000 sq. ft. of aluminum cladding and 180,000 square feet of glass. Two-thirds of the building envelope is covered with a flat facade framed in a polished aluminum and spandrel panels of colorless enameled aluminum. The other third of the building envelope is wrapped with a folded facade that creates formal bracelets around the towers. The bracelets are set at varying elevations as a compositional strategy in response to the existing massing of the complex. The bracelets integrate ventilation and LED lighting to reinforce a rhythm on the elevation. Along with an impressive mixed-use 16,100-square-foot base designed by Gaelle Lauriot Prevost, the project also added to the cluster of three towers with a fourth “petal” extension, recycling the same geometry for the original 1975 structures. With a similar exterior shell, the structural system of the tower was optimized to have less core space that affords a larger amount of open space. The renovation of the buildings involved increasing all window openings to be nearly two feet taller. All building equipment is organized into a ceiling plenum which geometrically responsive to the rhythm of the facade glazing. Where glazing occurs on the building envelope, a double-glazed system is integrated with 3” enameled aluminum awning strips, motorized based on weather data from a nearby weather station. Citylights has been awarded two environmental certifications: HQE (“Haute Qualite Environmental), and a “Very Good” level BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodolody) certification. These standards were achieved after a design process that included three dimensional digital modeling to optimize equipment sizing and locations, the detailing of a “breathable” double skin facade, an automated sun protection system, increased natural light through expanded openings, and a chilled beam induction system to optimize thermal comfort. An energy analysis of the project confirms the buildings consume 50 percent less than a similar sized building, and six times less than a conventional commercial building. The chill beams are able to reduce the heating and cooling load by 30 percent. Additionally, 64 percent of the energy demand in the building is covered by renewable energy which covers a significant portion of the heating and cooling load.
The Japan Art Association has announced that French architect Dominique Perrault, most famous for the National Library of France in Paris, has won the 2015 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award in the architecture category. Perrault is one of five laureates, joining Tadanori Yokoo for painting, Wolfgang Laib for sculpture, Mitsuko Uchida for music, and Sylvie Guillem for theater / film. At a ceremony in Tokyo on October 21, 2015, Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, will present each Praemium Imperiale winner with a specially designed gold medal and a testimonial letter. The award also brings with it roughly $122,000 (15 million yen). The 62-year-0ld architect “treads his own bold path,” describes The Guardian, with designs that “can be wildly imaginative … [or] … abstractly minimal.” Success is nothing new for Perrault who has already won the the Silver medal for town planning in 1992 and the Mies van der Rohe Prize in 1996. In 2010 he was also awarded the gold medal by the French Academy of Architecture for all his work. Previous winners include architects Steven Holl in 2014 and David Chipperfield in 2013.