Posts tagged with "France":

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Villa Noailles indulges in the design of superstar homes

Unlike old-money elites, who are more likely to adhere to long-established aesthetic traditions, self-made upstarts are often more accepting to changing styles. Hoping to become trendsetters, these parvenus often align themselves with other fledgling talents or those attempting to redefine their respective disciplines. Though this transaction brings challenges, coming up in society together can be a great advantage. Putting trust in creatives who have yet to prove themselves can be risky. However, the ability to defend each other’s approach, pool resources, and share the limelight ensures that both parties achieve some form of success. One has only to think of the emerging European industrial class in the late 19th century and its appropriation of the art nouveau style as a means to differentiate itself from the old guard, assert its new affluent position, and express its progressive values. In turn, this new societal group was able to offer support for a nascent architectural movement. There is no better precedent for this exchange, especially since the early 20th century, than the relationships that have formed between celebrities and architects. Entertainment superstars have often called on their design counterparts to design homes that represent their wildest dreams. In many cases, architects are given carte blanche and limitless budgets. Such projects offer them the chance to flex their muscles and to express new styles or articulate new theories. A recently-opened exhibition at the Villa Noailles in Hyères, France, seeks to better understand this particular phenomenon. Curated by Audrey Teichmann, Benjamin Lafore, and Sébastien Martinez Barat, Houses for Superstars L’architecture hypermédiatisée surveys this theme from different perspectives. Read the full story on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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France mandates public buildings be built with at least 50 percent timber

Instead of forcing a uniform style of federal architecture, French President Emmanuel Macron wants to go green with government-funded structures. The Times reported that after 2022, Macron is aiming for all new public buildings in France to be built with at least 50 percent wood or another bio-sourced material. Not only that, but the President has his sights set on creating 100 urban farms across the country in an effort to bolster its large-scale sustainability measures. Julien Denormandie, the French minister for cities and housing, said the move was inspired by Paris and its recent low-carbon mandate to build structures that are at least eight stories or higher for the 2024 Summer Olympics from timber. “If it is possible for the Olympics, it should be possible for ordinary buildings,” he said in a statement. “I am imposed on all the public entities that depend on me and which manage development to construct buildings with material that is at least 50 percent wood or from bio-sourced material.” Dominique Perrault’s master plan for the river-adjacent Olympic Village includes a series of mid-rise developments that comprise 2,400 units of housing, offices, shops, restaurants, and activity centers. Located in the lower-income neighborhood of Saint-Denis, most of the buildings will be passive or energy-plus structures that utilize wood or other sustainable materials. City Lab pointed out that Paris is using the international sporting event as a way to regenerate the inner suburbs of Northern Paris. The project broke ground on its 126-acre site in November. The push to use eco-friendly materials on big building projects has already started in other cities across France too. In Bordeaux, the country’s first mass timber residential tower is currently under construction as part of a three-structure development called Hyperion. Designed by Jean-Paul Viguier, the 187-foot-tall building will feature 16 stories of housing and office space built around a concrete core. Each floor, which cantilevers slightly over the one below it, will be made of cross-laminated timber. Hyperion is expected to open next year.  As France increases the build-out of these sustainable structures, the country is also boosting access to nature throughout the country’s densest urban enclaves. Denormandie said the first set of urban farms, a group of 30 locations, will be announced this summer. The government also wants to build 90 low-carbon “eco-neighborhoods” that can adapt to extreme weather events such as heatwaves and floods. A new group called France Ville Durable is spearheading the effort.  
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The Architectural Beast distorts architectural imagery at the FRAC Biennale

For the 2019 Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain (FRAC) Biennale in Orléans, France, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz-Alonso curated The Architectural Beast, an installation featuring 17 contemporary artists and architects. Together with Diaz-Alonso, Los Angeles-based designer Casey Rehm co-produced the installation: 12 paired video screens that nod towards Marcel Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (or The Large Glass installation). The top panel exhibits printed images the artists have selected to represent their work, while the lower screens show that same imagery being transformed by artificial intelligence software developed by Rehm. Also named The Architectural Beast, the software was designed to independently alter the imagery presented over the course of the three-month installation. According to Rehm, the program's AI is "initially trained on curated datasets of images and texts of the artists representing an institutional understanding of architecture, to an understanding of architecture of populist valuation." The AI, in other words, spends each night conducting image searches for the day's most popular architectural images and then uses the results to manipulate the original imagery. "By the second month of its life," Rehm explains, "it should cross the 50 percent line of curated artist and internet images in its network."
"Through artificial intelligence," wrote Diaz-Alonso in the installation description, "the work featured will be exposed to a perpetual state of transformation and mutation. The exhibition gathers a key set of practices, primarily from architecture, but also from art and fashion, to reveal facets of the strange beast that the tumultuous paradigm shifts of recent decades have left behind." The AI also uploads the imagery as individual posts on Instagram daily under the username @thearchitecturalbeast, each of which is complemented by cryptic texts that are developed by a separate AI program. This writing, which at first glance read like heavy theoretical essays with the aid of predictive text, was initially trained on the written work of Rehm, Liam Young, and Damjan Jovanovic. The combination of text and imagery created by The Architectural Beast demonstrates one way architects can let go of the wheel and give artificial intelligence greater agency in the role of human-centered design. The installation is currently on view through January 19.
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Foster + Partners' Marseilles airport extension flagged by environmental agency

Foster + Partners’ design for a new extension to the Marseilles Airport on a former brownfield site is being scrutinized by France’s environmental agency, which has called for a resubmission of the plans in fear they don’t align with the country’s ambitious plan to go carbon neutral by 2050.  The Autorité Environnementale (AE) said that the current plans are “underestimating the project’s environmental impacts and overestimating its socio-economic benefits” in their statement. Areas of concern for the AE include Foster + Partners’ addressing of traffic, noise, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and even the impact on local birdlife.  The renowned British firm won the competition for this extension in 2017, beating Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for the chance to add the “missing piece” between the existing buildings of the airport—the original ’60s modernist wing by Fernand Pouillon and a 1992 addition designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership. The winning design features a prominent glazed volume, a space for newly connected departures, and arrivals hall. In addition to the 72-foot-tall windows that will pour light into the building, an array of continuous skylights in the inverted beam roof will add to the naturally-lit "glass box" effect. The goal? “A clarity of layout and expression,” according to the firm, inspired by Pouillon’s project, with the ability to process over 12 million travelers per year.  “In regards to the content, the extension project has been thought to be virtuous,” said an AE spokesperson, clarifying that the query wasn’t a question of the design, but of the methodology. While the architects defend their claims that the airport will be sustainable—even exceeding the cutting edge French HQE and E+C- standards—the project's focus on new public transit connectivity and more efficient airplanes seemed to miss the mark for the AE and have muddied the proposal for the agency. The new E+C- standards place a priority on energy-positive and low-carbon emission building projects, ideas that came into effect after pledges at the 2016 Paris Agreement amongst UN countries.  France is due to receive the resubmission of more detailed plans for environmental action at the Aeroport Marseilles Provence by September 2019 and has reaffirmed its commitment to environmental action in the face of a growing denial of climate change in international politics. The carbon neutrality plan is seen as being “trialed” by the French, and the government’s attention to the new law, just implemented in June, has sent ripples throughout the international community.  Foster + Partners has recently taken several internal steps to address and highlight climate concerns, and have expressed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and movements like Net Zero Carbon Commitment. Foster + Partners has publicly pledged to have 100 percent of their own occupied offices be carbon neutral by 2030, and has joined Architects Declare, a collective of UK firms verbal in their recognition and combating of climate change. 
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Here's what you need to know about the stadium hosting the World Cup finale

This Sunday, all eyes will be on the pitch of the Parc Olympic Lyonnais (Parc OL) for the final match of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The United States and its yet-to-be-determined competitor will go head to head in the French town of Lyon for the much-anticipated game, and while most will hope to see soccer star Megan Rapinoe back on the field, the impressive stadium architecture will also be back on full display for one last time. Designed by Populous and Paris-based firm Naço Architecture in 2016, the low-lying Parc OL, a.k.a Groupama Stadium, is a 578,000-square-foot arena holding nearly 60,000 seats. Its most distinctive feature—a turtle-shaped shell covered in white fabric—shines in the midday sun and is illuminated from within during nighttime play. The four-story concrete, glass, and steel venue actually boasts the nickname “Stade des Lumières” or Stadium of Lights, due to this. In addition, the undulating canopy was designed to mimic the rolling hills and forests found in Lyon, and its support columns look like tree branches, according to Populous principal Gary Reeves in conversation with Interior Design.   Built just ahead of the 2016 European Championships, the $468 million stadium has quickly become one of the top sporting venues in all of France. It was one of nine stadiums selected to be a part of this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, and as the largest venue on the list by far, it was slated to host nine matches total, including last Monday's semifinal and the upcoming final.  One of the most compelling reasons so many matches have been scheduled in Lyon is because of the town’s bigtime football history. Several major French professional players have come out of the 500,000-strong city, which sits southeast of the country’s core. Parc OL is also home to the Olympique Lyonnais, the Ligue 1 football club—hence the red- and blue-blocked colors of the bowl. Its women’s team is currently on a 13-year winning streak in the national league, and they’ve won the UEFA Women’s Champion’s League six times since 2011.  But World Cup-level soccer isn’t the only pro sport the city excels in. Rugby is also huge, as is volleyball, basketball, and ice hockey. In other words, there are plenty of other large-scale sporting venues scattered throughout the city. While Lyon’s massive sports scene attracts throngs of local and visiting spectators, Parc OL was built outside the heart of the city to the east, away from many other venues. It’s situated next to a commuter highway and is largely surrounded by residential neighborhoods and farmland in the commune of Décines-Charpieu. In order to keep noise from seeping outside the stadium and into the adjacent community during gameplay, Populous designed the space with a large, open bowl that traps the sound of chants going from the north to the south stands. Since Olympique Lyonnais home fans are known to be noisy, the fabric roof also reduces sound reflection Other carefully-designed attractions inside Parc OL include a series of lounges on the outer edges of the stadium sectioned off with double-height glazing. Food and beverages areas are also located here. The Salon des Lumières, one the arena’s seven larger dining options, was intentionally designed with a very sleek, French style that fuses the club’s identity in a seamless fashion. Creating subtle nods to the brand on the venue’s interior was important, according to Naço Architecture founder Marcelo Joulia. The design team integrated this, and a handful of other fan-centric elements such as 110 executive suits, multiple meeting rooms, banquet halls, and bars to get more people out to the stadium. According to Elizabeth Miglierina, an associate architect in Populous's London office, another driver for interest in the stadium is the fact that the pitch is nearly visible from the podium. She wrote in an interview that the protective roof canopy allows for a more dynamic experience in the communal spaces at Parc OL. The spectator concourses were designed by Miglierina and her team to also allow for varying views of the field and the distant French Alps. Some of those spaces are cathedral-like in feel, with triple-height ceilings and work by global street artists adorning the walls as part of Park OL’s Offside Gallery. The gallery is open even on non-match days.  Like the stadium’s public spaces, the green car park that surrounds the structure also doubles as a place for congregation and play when matches aren’t going on. Populous worked with French group AIA Associés on the durable landscape. For real-time aerial views of the venue, watch the final match of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup this Sunday at 11 a.m. EST. 
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This winery holds its own with a self-supporting limestone facade

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With a wine-producing history stretching back three millennia to Greek colonization in the 6th century B.C., the French region of Provence is nearly synonymous with viticulture. Winemaker Les Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle has called the region home since 1912 and last year completed a full-scale revamp of its facilities by Paris-based Carl Fredrik Svenstedt Architect (CFSA) featuring a facade of self-supporting one-ton blocks of local stone. The 47,000-square-foot winery is partially nestled into the hillside, rising from a stepped concrete foundation. The two primary elevations of the structure run adjacent to each other, with that to the east following a gentle curve. Each stone block of the facade is approximately 3 square feet in area and 1.5 feet in height, stacked to reach a total height of nearly 33 feet. Each stone block weighs approximately a ton, allowing for the insertion of certain load-bearing elements into the blocks for interior slabs and beams.
  • Facade Manufacturer Carrier De Provence Poggia Provence
  • Architects Carl Fredrik Svenstedt Architect
  • Facade Installer Printemps de la Pierre
  • Location Taradeau, Provence, France
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Self-supporting limestone facade with a concrete core
  • Products La Pierre du Pont-du-Gard limestone Soleal Evolution Technal aluminum window frames
The arrangement of the self-supporting stone blocks dilates and contorts according to interior function; the central body housing dozens of stainless steel and wooden wine barrels must be guarded from UV rays, while gaps in the imposing elevations crop towards the north and south for office spaces and screened courtyards. For French vineyards, the concept of terroir, or the unique qualities of local mineral and environmental conditions, is directly credited for the final palette of each vintage. For CFSA, it was imperative that the design of the new winery similarly reflect the surrounding geography. To this effect, the design team procured the beige limestone blocks from quarrier Carrières de Provence who source from local a limestone quarry dating back from the Roman era. The large-grain stone, known as La Pierre du Pont-du-Gard, was first roughly harvested from the quarry and subsequently fashioned in an on-site workshop with diamond disc rotors. “Using stone quarried nearby was coherent for the insertion of such a large building into the landscape,” says Carl Fredrik Svenstedt, “at the same time the stone has fantastic thermal properties for a winery in a hot climate, with great mass inertia and hygrometry, while also being very accessible financially.” Following fabrication, the stone blocks were transported 125 miles from Carrier de Provence's facilities to the construction site and craned into position atop the perimeter of the concrete shell. Joinery of the blocks was fairly straightforward: they are held together by gravity and mortar. Since Provence is located in an active seismic zone, CFSA added two key elements to boost earthquake resistance: every sixteen feet, the stone piers were hollowed to facilitate the insertion of a vertical concrete pier directly to the foundation, while strategically placed pins are used to the same effect for areas with significant openings. Similar to historic wineries that rely on a system of vaults to allow for flexible interior floor plans, the great halls of the facility are supported by a system of precast concrete beams and columns. CFSA relied on rebar and infill concrete between limestone columns and the core to tie the stone and concrete elements into a cohesive structural system.
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Paul Andreu, French Modernist hero, has passed away

Iconic French Modernist architect Paul Andreu has passed away at age 80. The legendary designer is best known for the futuristic designs he created for France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) outside of Paris, where Andreu served as chief architect between 1967 and 2002. Andreu was spotted in a group photo featuring Dominique Perrault, Christian de Portzamparc, Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano, and Jean Nouvel on social media last week while attending a dinner at the Centre Pompidou honoring architect Ando; France’s Le Monde, reported that Andreu appeared to be very tired to several journalists at the event. Andreu passed away just a few days later.
Andreu is credited with the airport’s signature Modernist design elements, including the much-Instagrammed Terminal 1 at the airport. The circular building is punctuated by a skylight-topped atrium that is crisscrossed by sloping, glass tube escalators, elements that help bring people from upper-level drop-off and check-in areas to the shopping and terminal levels located below. Andreu joined the project partway through design—development for the airport had begun in 1964—and is credited with the drum-shaped design for the terminal. The iconic structure features singularly-programmed floor plates and its design was inspired by the form of an octopus. Andreu was also chief designer for the airport's other terminals. In 2002, a partial collapse at the then-under-construction Terminal 2E resulted in the deaths of four people. Independent investigators did not find a singular cause for the failure but instead blamed tight budgetary constraints and a resulting lack of margin of error in the safety-related elements for the tragedy. Andreu, in turn, blamed contractors for preparing a faulty concrete mix for the structure, which was designed as a thin concrete barrel vaulted system. Eventually, the collapsed elements were demolished and replaced with a new terminal of more conventional design. Architectural Record reported that before his career-defining work at CDG, Andreu worked as chief of construction on the Johan Otto von Spreckelsen-designed Grande Arche monument in Paris’s La Defense district. The arch was built to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution and was inaugurated in 1989. According to Structurae, Andreu was also responsible for the design of many other airports around the world, including the Jakarta Airport in 1986 and airports in Tehran, Iran and Harare, Zimbabwe, both from 1996. Andreu also designed the Beijing Opera and Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai, China, in 2002.
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Aluminum complements wood in this office building's woven skin

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Laval, a town in western France town historically known for the manufacturing of fine linens, has received a new 24,000-square-foot, three-story office building featuring unique ornate screening systems. Designed by Paris-based Périphériques on a small parcel of land, the project supports a growing culture of startup companies by bringing together multiple organizations with large shared collective spaces. The relatively straightforward massing of the building comprises a subtly shaped box defined by required setbacks and two subtractive cuts for daylight penetration, punctuated by a central wood-clad courtyard and roof terrace.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer WICONA
  • Architects Périphériques
  • Facade Installer ISORE; MIRO (construction)
  • Facade Consultants Egis Bâtiments Centre Ouest (technical engineer)
  • Location Laval, France
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Reinforced concrete frame with timber and aluminum screens
  • Products Perforated metal corners, mirrored stainless steel siding by ISORE
The courtyard massing scheme sets up two primary facade responses: an external perforated aluminum screen and an internal, diagonally installed wood screen. The architects said the main goal for these two assemblies was to create different atmospheres, a device to mediate the surrounding landscape, and an intimate courtyard patio. “The perforated metal offers a way to observe the landscape from inside the office and creates a kinetic effect from the outside,” said Emmanuelle Marin, principal at Périphériques. The primary external facades are organized into approximately 18-inch modules defined by vertical floor-to-ceiling bands of glazing interspersed with insulated metal panels. Perforated bronze and silver–colored aluminum angles were set at contrasting angles to produce what the architects call a “kinetic screen.” This solar shading device is attached back to the primary facade slab edge. The spacing and overlap of the two layers of aluminum are responsive to solar orientation and internal program. The courtyard is lined with a timber sunscreen composed of four-inch thick horizontal members set at a slight inclination set along a 4-foot grid. A continuous pathway framed by the building envelope wraps the courtyard on the inside, and an interior glass wall buffers noise and filters daylight. HVAC and plumbing systems are organized along this pathway for efficient, centralized distribution.    Marin said one of the successes of the project is the softening of the urban environment, achieved by the courtyard massing and wood cladding. “The acoustics within the courtyard patios are very interesting, producing an effect that makes the outdoors feel more like an interior space.”  
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A French museum creates romance with a flowing glass tile facade

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With an extensive archaeological collection spanning from the 7th century BC through the Middle Ages, the Musée de la Romanité, located in Nîmes, France (opening summer 2018), presents artifacts from the "romanization" of local society both before and after the city’s Roman occupation. The project, which has evolved into one of the largest contemporary architectural projects in France, is the result of an international competition dating back to 2011. Designed by Paris-based Elizabeth de Portzamparc, the resulting museum establishes a dialogue with an adjacent 2000-year-old amphitheater through a veil-like glass tile screen.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Pilkington (glass); Emmanuel BARROI (screen-printing); Aurblanc (facade construction model)
  • Architects Elizabeth De Portzamparc
  • Facade Installer HEFI (ROSCHMANN Group)
  • Facade Consultants BET; RFR (facade); Sarl André Verdier (structure)
  • Location Nîmes, France
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System structural glass over steel subframe
  • Products Pilkington Optiwhite
The building aims to produce this dialogue by being different instead of similar. Seen from above, the museum is organized in a square plan that contrasts with the amphitheater’s curvilinear form. The materiality of the adjacent Roman stone structure and what Elizabeth de Portzamparc’s office calls the “magnificence of vertical arches passed down to us through the centuries,” is answered with a decidedly light assembly of digitally-crafted steel and glass. The result is an undulating, textile-like drapery that seemingly floats over the archaeological context. The Musée de la Romanité’s facade is composed of over 7,000 structural glass units measuring approximately 5-feet-long by 8-inches-tall by less than three-eighths-of-an-inch thick. The glass “strips” were screen printed with 8-inch opaque white squares on their exterior face to maximize legibility and solar shading performance. Each strip was installed individually on site over a delicate framework composed of primary vertical members and secondary horizontal girts. This framework establishes specific undulations based on the curvature of the facade. The mechanical attachments were specially coated to blend in with adjacent finishes to produce an additional level of seamlessness. The lightness of the system is all the more impressive given the site’s location within a seismic zone that extends through parts of southern France. The unique assembly of glass strips, as opposed to a custom molded glass system or more traditional curtain wall, arose from a desire to achieve a visually thin structure and required the design team to manage the weight of the glass assembly. “We finally chose the strip system so as to obtain a background structure as light and less visible as possible, allowing an important economy of raw materials and construction costs in comparison to a molded glass facade, which requires very expensive and heavy bearing structures,” said de Portzamparc. “The result is very lively for its subtlety and its reflections that extend the colors of the surrounding buildings and the sky that changes every hour of the day.” The architects developed the project through a 1:100 scale study model that was based on two parametric aspects: geometry and graphic design. Several tests at full scale also occurred in parallel to the model to study the detailing of key attachment points. The team worked through iterations of translating a fluid digital surface into a contoured assembly of horizontal strips, working to manage gaps between the strips so as to achieve a continuity of the surface through smaller building modules.  
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Dominique Perrault talks about "magic mountains" and political protests at Facades+

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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Snøhetta masterfully creates a new museum setting for 17,000-year-old cave art

When I tell people my daughter lives in France, their first thoughts are of Paris. When I say the south of France, they think of Cannes, Nice, and Marseilles. Actually, she lives two hours east of Bordeaux in a beautiful region known as the Dordogne. Buried amongst the stately chateaus and castles is a collection of artwork that has captured the imagination of the world—the cave paintings of Lascaux. Discovered in 1940, these prehistoric works of art were created more than 17,000 years ago in Montignac, France. At first, the caves were open to the public, but were closed in 1963 when it was discovered that humans exhaling carbon dioxide were damaging the artwork. Lascaux II, a facsimile of the original, opened in 1983, and is located 600 feet away. But, even still, human traffic was damaging the original. Subsequently, in 2012, Lascaux III was created as a traveling exhibit and it is currently touring Asia. To bring this whole fascinating story back to life, after it had been closed to the public for over 50 years, a design competition was launched in 2011 to create Lascaux IV. Its mission was to bring this world heritage site out of the darkness and back into the public’s eye, to provide access to the Dordogne region of France as an international cultural and scientific attraction, and to create a greater understanding of the history and meaning that spawned this Paleolithic cave art. The design competition attracted many of Europe’s leading firms, including Mateo Arquitectura, Auer+Weber, and Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Ultimately, in 2013, the jury selected the design team led by Snøhetta, of Oslo, Norway, working with local firm Duncan Lewis and interior-exhibition designers Casson Mann of London. Jury member Bernard Cazeau, a senator representing the Dordogne, said, “From the point of view of the scenography—which was, in our eyes, an essential factor—it’s the most successful project.” Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, one of the founding architects of Snøhetta, explained that “during the process of copying, you discover new information. It was a huge research investment.” The architects and exhibit designers learned how the ancient artists thought and acted. Those painters would draw multiple heads on a horse to simulate movement as the horse swam across a river. The building and its multiple exhibitions work beautifully as an integrated sequence of spaces. Snøhetta is recognized for its integration of landscape and architecture. The Lascaux IV Museum is masterful in this regard. The museum forms the edge of a sloping forest adjacent to a broad field. “The building is an insertion,” Thorsen explained, “a negotiation between the forest and the agriculture.” It is possible to walk from the entry plaza up a slope to the top of the building, not unlike Snøhetta’s design for the Oslo Opera House. “The building is not an abstract,” Thorsen said. It brings the museum experience to a new reality, reminding us we are all part of a 20,000-year continuum. Many people, including this writer, were skeptical about the value of a museum with copies of the cave art. I had visited the original cave paintings in the nearby French town of Rouffignac and have been trained to value original artwork. So how would this team of architects and exhibit designers create a place that could teach us new things, touch our hearts, and move our minds? With imagination, innovation, and technology, they created a whole new world worth every hour of your time and then some. I envisioned a fake cave and a gift shop, but as I approached this bold incision in the landscape, set against the forested hillside, I realized there was much more to this museum than I had imagined. The building is partially buried in the hillside near the original caves. The sequence of spaces skillfully takes the visitor from outside to inside and back outside again. There is, of course, the re-creation of the original caves; with a change in light, acoustics, and humidity, you feel like you are entering down into the cave as the artists did more than 17,000 years ago. Your eyes adjust to the dim light, and the paintings come alive. Over 50 artists and sculptors from the Perigord Facsimile Workshop labored for three years to reproduce the shape and texture of the cave, and, using the same materials as the original artists, captured the color, shape, and form of over 600 animals, 400 signs and symbols, and one human with a bird’s head. The gentle curvature of the cave walls was used to simulate the curvature of the animals’ bodies. It’s impossible not to wonder about who these Paleolithic people were and how they lived. And why did they spend the time and effort to tell us their stories? After exiting the caves, you enter a series of additional exhibition halls and theaters. Pieces of the cave are re-created and suspended from the ceiling. Digital images, projected on the paintings, explain how the artists created layers of meaning over time. Thorsen explained that “the cave has a meaning in its own right. The cave is itself an artifact.” Three mini-theaters trace the history of discovery in the caves since 1940. Then, a separate space, framed by multiple suspended digital monitors, explores how the cave paintings have influenced contemporary artists. Museums have a dual function: first, to display the art within in a visually stimulating way that allows visitors to learn, to grow, and to explore. And second, to create an architecture that engages the community and makes a design statement of its own. Snøhetta achieves both with a deft hand and a keen eye. The image of the building against the forest at dusk is a dramatic sight, expecting to draw nearly half a million visitors per year.
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Studio Libeskind wins competitions for two new projects in France

This article was originally published on ArchDaily as "Studio Libeskind Wins Competitions for 2 New Projects in France." Studio Libeskind has won competitions for two new mixed-use projects in France, the firm announced at the MIPIM world property market conference this past week in Cannes. The first project comprises a retail, conference and transportation center for the city of Nice, while the second will see the firm complete a 150-meter-tall skyscraper in Toulouse. “With these important projects in two of the main French cities, we unveil our new development strategy to create urban mixed-use buildings. Once completed, both will become new landmarks for Nice and Toulouse. With Studio Libeskind, we are up to great things!” said Philippe Journo, CEO of Compagnie de Phalsbourg, the developer behind both projects. Gare Thiers-Est, Nice In Nice, Studio Libeskind has collaborated with Fevrier Carre Architectes and landscape architect Jean Mus to design the “Gare Thiers-Est” (East Thiers Station), a keystone project of a major urban redevelopment of Thiers Central station and its surroundings. The sculptural, faceted building will contain 18,300 square meters of luxury commercial space featuring shops, terraced cafes, and restaurants with panoramic city views, as well as a Hilton hotel, a 600-seat auditorium, and co-working facilities. The project will reconnect the severed urban fabric by creating new pedestrian connections between the street and the station, united the North and South neighborhoods currently separated by the railways and the Pierre-Mathis road. “This project represents the forward thinking of the City of Nice to create a major architectural landmark and to rejuvenate the surrounding area near the Theirs Station in this historic city,” said Daniel Libeskind. “For Nice, my aim was to create a building that is seen from all angles – that will become the connective tissue between two sectors and reconnect the neighborhoods. It will serve to reflect the city, the light, and the landscape.” Drawing inspiration from the mineral forms of azurite, the project will feature a glass and metal facade that will reflect the scenes of the city, landscape, and sky, rising 40 meters to obscure the rail tracks. The facade will also allow the building to be visible from the hills above the city, creating a beacon that is a celebration of infrastructure. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2017, with an estimated completion at the end of 2019. Occitanie Tower, Toulouse About 450 kilometers to the west, Studio Libeskind has designed the 150-meter-tall Occitanie Tower to serve as a new landmark for the business district of Toulouse. Located on the site of a former postal sorting center, the folding glass form will rise 40 floors, becoming the first true skyscraper in the city. Also a mixed-use project, the tower will include 11,000 square meters of office space, a Hilton hotel, approximately 120 apartment units, and a restaurant featuring panoramic views, as well as commercial and office space. A ribbon of vertical gardens designed by landscape architect Nicolas Gilsoul will spiral up the tower, acting as a natural extension of the lush park and waterway of Canal du Midi that winds through the city. “With its suspended gardens that change color during the seasons, the slight silvertine of the glazing of the façade will reflect the pink tones of Toulouse and the brightness of this material will change perception of the space, according to the variation of light,” explained Libeskind. “The tower becomes a unique object in a vast urban space—the tower will not only become a destination, but also a defining public space.” Sited east of the city center, the building will feature views of the Garonne River and the Pyrenees, located less than 100km away. The project is hoped to become the gateway to the city’s burgeoning business sector. “Toulouse is poised to assert itself as a new business hub in the region,” said developer Philippe Journo. “ The Occitanie Tower will create both an iconic landmark for the city as well as create a strategic economic generator for the district.” Studio Libeskind will collaborate with Toulouse architect Francis Cardete on the project. Construction is slated to begin in 2018 and complete by 2022. News via Studio Libeskind. Written by Patrick Lynch Archdaily_Collab_1