OMA : Lab City

After Châtenay-Malabry (92), the École Centrale Paris moved to Gif-sur-Yvette (91), on the Saclay plateau, under a brand new envelope designed by the Dutch agency OMA.

For this huge project of 70 000 square meters, OMA and its architect Rem Koolhaas have designed a set located opposite the usual scientific laboratories or other research buildings, often uncommon, hermetic and cold. The agency then imagines an air block composed of five levels in tiers arranged around a vast central square bathed in light thanks to an ETFE canopy.


If the 20 000 square meters of this building combining concrete, steel and glass are dedicated to teaching - amphitheatres, classrooms, research etc. -, they also include offices, food and rest areas. In contrast to the exterior of the building, the airs of fortress, the various interior spaces are extremely open. Movable walls arranged in common places - notably in the agora, containing the self, a fast food stand and many sofas - also allow a freedom of arrangement of these surfaces. The zones merge, encouraging students, researchers and administrative and pedagogical staff to exchange, without separating the activities of each.

"OMA did not just interpret the specifications or even enter into the rationality of the engineer but sought to understand our pedagogical model, its values ​​and principles, to translate it into a form to the both architectural and urbanistic. " Hervé Biausser, Director of the ECP

Even if the establishment appears to be closed on its environment, the project managers have in fact decided to link it to the neighborhood and to the neighboring buildings through a diagonal street. OMA's response to the program is not only architectural, but also urban, and will make sense when the Plateau de Saclay buildings are built.

An institution as stimulating for the students as for the inhabitants of Gif-sur-Yvette. In addition to breaking the codes, it breathes a new breath to a region previously lacking dynamism.

The project is selected for les ArchiDesignclub Awards 2018 in the category Teaching - Superior

To know more, visit the ArchiDesignclub Awards website et the grandmother

Photos: Philippe Ruault

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