Given the reduced program size and the location of the land parcel, the idea was to insert most of the program elements in a high vertical volume. Which set on a street angle will stand as an emblematic tower. The “special” elements of the program will have volumes of their own. They strain the composition from one end of the parcel to the other with glass walls. These spaces contain the ground floor and the first level and create a pedestal from where the rest of the masses stand on. The plinth unfolds itself along the elevation creating set backs and notches where the different volumes snap in or detach themselves from. This interaction creates a tension link between the volumes. The sculptural as well as urban solution, anticipates the future buildings in the surrounding parcels. It is an urban sculpture shaped by its environment. This development is deeply inspired by the actual surrounding landscape of the Plaine Saint Denis (northern Parisian outskirts). A broken assembly overlapped with buildings of different proportions and materials, creating a poetic universe, sometimes astonishing, slashed by void making the sky invade almost all the landscape. The elevations are conceived as constant opposition between opacity and transparency. The opaque walls are done with (lazured) glossy concrete. Series of portholes dressed with opalescent cylinders punctuate the elevation and illuminate it at night. The glass walls are equipped with different types of glass depending on the confidentiality degree required by the facilities. The offices in the tower on the Rue de Landy are equipped with silk screen printed glass, where the positioning of the transparence and the opalescence create a wave type of geometry.
Nicolas Desmazières and Anouk Legendre have fonded the X-TU agency in 1999, Through several buildings, they have built up a refined language, precise, which is expressed by serene and light volumes, placed frankly and therefore withhold a unique force of impact. A spirit of ”minimalism” has been evoked in their consideration, but it would be, without doubt, more true to see it as, shapes poetically implied in their volumes with the fullness of their materials. The energy put in their constructions, the rational use of the construction resources, robust details, frank color scheme giving a balance between blocks and large spaces, show that all entities are treated very distinctly. The aptness and the refusal of ostentation represents a very demanding patience and research. The main lines of their buildings contain sobriety providing from strong images thoroughly settled, images which appear from the observations of powerful sites.
architects: X-TU Anouk Legendre + Nicolas Desmazieres
team: Roel Dehoorne, Gaelle Leborgne, Melanie Bury, Ingrid Manger
client: Ministery of Interior
program: offices, security, fitness room
cost: 5.790.000 euro
total floor area: 3.857 sqm
engineering: ESTAIR, L. Labrousse
materials: serigraphed glass, black concrete, lacquered metal
graphic: Frederic Teschner
photo: JM. Monthiers