Program : Construction and design of a cement distribution center, built within 5 meters from Paris’s ring (périphérique), in the new Bruneseau neighborhood, an urban context fast moving at the end of the Avenue de France in Paris’s far East. Five silos limited to 37 m in height have been built for different parts of the program: one for offices on the street, another one for a test center underneath the ring road, one vertical link (stair + elevator) and two large silos hosting cement in up to 6 different qualities.
The site is linked to the Austerlitz station rails but is very small in size.
For this reason part of the program is built either bellow the peripherique or high on legs, partly above the street.
The project faces the Berlier Building, built by Dominique Perrault and 1990′s Equerre 1st prize. It will also soon be the neighbor of Paris’s next incredible building: a 180 m office tower designed by Jean Nouvel. The center will take another dimension with the addition of an artistic intervention that has been ordered from Laurent Grasso… more on this soon.
The initial question for us architects was to “design” this industrial project located 5 meters from Paris’s eastern ring road, and make it fit in the new Bruneseau Nord urban district at the end of ZAC Rive Gauche’s large development area.
Three conditions were needed to make this project possible:
Urban and political plan to extend the city to the East with a pedestrian link from Paris to Ivry.
The desire to develop this industrial fringe with the intention to maintain industrial activity within the city’s new fabric.
A rare chance to design a building with tools and resources usually reserved for engineering structure design.
A complex process: The project was long to design at first, due to high stakes and noticeable location along Paris’s “peripherique”. At one stage, we had one weekend to design a whole new project. That called for a complex but bold and clear concept. By that time, it was obvious too, that CIMENT CALCIA would favor materials that promote their people’s skills and business of making and selling cement to erect wonderful buildings around the city.
A simple concept: each element of the program, including offices and quality control center, is inserted in one of the five different silos. The project uses common technical language and fittings, but has been transformed into a unique work space, dedicated to the material it contains: the silos, the stair tour, the offices, the test center and the ground, are all made from concrete.
One is now instantaneously overwhelmed by the mass of the project. It’s become alive with bodies rising from the ground and attracting each other into one unique place.
High-tech construction: construction relies on several different use of concrete including sliding shuttering, prefabrication of shells or poured on site high-strength concrete.
The polygonal shapes, chosen for the openings, were imagined as a form of abstraction of the stones that are used in making concrete, but also as a mineral broken fragment of the existing facility and infrastructures that had to be taken down for the new urban plan to develop.