In words of Marc Barani (French member of the panel of judges): “The building directly and effectively expresses and illustrates the energy contained in the process of planning this living and breathing space. The vertical public space was conceived thanks to a subtle and clever arrangement of heavily glassed spaces. This general sense of transparency makes the structure the centre of the project and affords it a potent and unmistakeable presence.”
Public Condenser in Saclay, France, by Muoto Architecture
BigMat ’17 Architecture Category Prize
Project title: Public Condenser
Location: Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Authors: Gilles Delalex, architect, Yves Moreau, architect
Collaborators: Y Ingénierie (Engineer), Bolling & Grohamnn (Structural Engineer), Novorest (Engineer), Alternative (Acoustician)
Type of work: Public
Photographs: Maxime Delvaux, Myriam Tirler
According to the panel of judges chairman, Jesús Aparicio, “[…] here the panel was swayed by the functional integration or condensing of public activities within the building, made possible thanks to a structure that elegantly superimposes the different spaces and activities.”
The project is a public facility, situated on the new campus of Paris-Saclay. The building hosts a mix of activities, including indoor and outdoor sports, facilities, a restaurant, coffee shop and various public spaces: a pedestrian square, street terraces, park areas for deliveries, bikes and cars. The building is organized vertically with its different activities superimposed on one another, using the roof as a panoramic playground for football and basketball games.
The different areas are linked by an open staircase that allows for independent accesses. The building takes the form of an urban shelf, a vertical public space that is accessible to all campus visitors, day or night. It is shared facility, encouraging the encounter of various populations living close to one another but rarely meeting. The restaurant, coffee shop and sports activities are made accessible to students, company employees, teachers, and researchers. It aims at creating a meeting point for everyone by mixing activities that are usually separate.
The building has been conceived as a minimal structure, using rough materials and robust and long lasting techniques. Technology is used minimally to provide a place that will last in time, with no need for complicated maintenance. In response to the low construction budget, detailing has been kept to a minimum. This economical approach has allowed for the inclusion of a generous public square in the construction price, ensuring that the planted pedestrian connection of the building provides a minimal footprint.