The Sorbonne, France's most iconic university, is planning a new multidisciplinary research center in the heart of Paris. The winners of the design contest were recently announced, and plans from Danish design firm BIG and Parisian company OFF Architecture were given first prize.
The new center, named Paris PARC, is located at the "visual axis" of the Notre Dame Cathedral, according to the architects, and will stand between Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe and the Jussieu Campus park.
Set in a very dense part of Paris' Left Bank, the building has been optimized for maximum natural light, and though it is tightly fit between its neighbors it manages to keep some pretty good views as well.
The building will have a green roof park as part of the designers' wish to give the researchers a more visceral connection to the city that surrounds them.
Bjarke Ingles, founder of BIG, said that "as a form of urban experiment, the Paris PARC is the imprint of the pressures of its urban context. The PARC is concieved as a chain of reactions to the various external and internal forces acting upon it."
A "canyon" of sorts runs through the middle of the building in order to connect the two sides of the structure, and also serves as a way for light to get to the labs. The designers included a central atrium meant for meetings, and a public staircases winds up through the center of the building. At the top lies a faculty club and the rooftop terrace with Seine views that is open to the public that and covered in vegetation.
Masses of glass, including transparent walls, contribute to the presence of daylight, but are also in place to stimulate interaction between the labs and the offices, as well as with the university as a whole.
Of PARC's design, Ingles commented that it was "inflated to allow daylight and air to enter to the heart of the facility, compressed to ensure daylight and views for the neighboring classrooms and dormitories, lifted and decompressed to allow the public to enter from both plaza and park, and finally tilted to reflect the spectacular view of the Paris skyline and the Notre Dame to the Parisians.
Other collaborators on the project are Buro Happold for the engineering work, Michel Forgue consultants and environmental engineer Franck Boutte.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com