BIG Comes to Paris
November 18, 2011
Paris PARC by BIG, with Paris-based architects OFF
Given their perpetual winning streak and Bjarke Ingel’s rapid rise to architectural stardom, it’s easy to forget that BIG has built relatively few projects–only 9, in fact, with 16 completed “projects”. The sheer scale of their buildings, not to mention the colorful variety of locales they inhibit (Kazakhstan, Shanghai, New York) and the new typological conditions they create (a waste-to-energy plant-cum-ski chalet, for example), however, easily eclipses this fact. BIG’s newest winning project, the Paris PARC, has all three, all wrapped up in a mirror-like skin which reflects some of Paris’ most beloved monuments. Click for more!
Beating out proposals from the likes of MVRDV and Périphériques, BIG worked with Paris-based firm OFF architect to design the 15,000 square-meter (over 49,000 square-foot) research centre for Sorbonne’s Scientific university Université Pierre et Marie Curie, a transparent three-dimensional volume meant to be stealthily inserted into the city’s rich urban fabric. Located on the banks of the Seine, the project will be visually aligned with the Notre Dame Cathedral, while its folding envelope will open up towards Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe and onto an adjacent park.
A void slices through the building’s center, forming an atrium filled with daylight that also establishes a visual connection between laboratories and offices. Here, a grand stairway leads to the publicly accessible rooftop terrace, complete with a sculptural landscape from which to peer down into the laboratory spaces below and to view out onto the city’s infamous skyline.
Of the project’s unique formal configuration, Bjarke Ingels explains, “As a form of urban experiment the Paris PARC is the imprint of the pressures of its urban context. Wedged into a super dense context – in terms of space, public flows and architectural history – the PARC is conceived as a chain of reactions to the various external and internal forces acting upon it. Inflated to allow daylight and air to enter into 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.”