Paris Nord University's Research Center for Humanities
The building known as the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Paris-Nord will serve as the home of the forthcoming Condorcet campus, located at the heart of the Plaine Saint-Denis district - a densely populated and rapidly evolving urban environment. The building’s 6 700 square meters are home to 300 researchers and doctoral candidates, and it is used for various activities: teaching, research, technological experimentation and public events. In addition to the functional scope statement issued to applicants, the President of the MSH also laid out on paper his vision of the perfect centre for social sciences: a bold architectural statement that could offer the calm atmosphere needed for research, but also the openness required for cross-pollination between the various fields of social sciences. This was an ambitious and complex project, located within a near-saturated urban environment.
The diversity of requirements and sense of ambition expressed by the client spurred us to take some bold architectural stances: first of all, we created a new urban depth of field, thereby elevating our build and amplifying its vast and imposing dimensions, by placing the building on stilts and having the entry below street level. This enabled us to erect two glass-walled floors hovering over the city, opening up the campus to its urban surroundings. The way in which the building’s component areas were organised – with an auditorium and restaurant on the roof, above the dedicated research spaces - made up a whole that deliberately contrasted with its environment, while still remaining a welcoming space, where the overhanging auditorium creates a giant canopy for students. Inside, foot traffic is channelled through a series of striking spaces, reflecting the wealth of interwoven disciplines that make up the field of social sciences.
For this project, we strove to create a deliberately composite architectural style, in which the design of each element was determined by its unique function. The interweaving combination of these elements, as well as their dialogue with the surrounding urban environment (and the echoes of its industrial past) led us to create a project with an unrepentantly distinct identity. The raw reinforced concrete speaks to its post-industrial identity, while the overhanging black canopy has a megalithic quality, with bright colours creating visual disruption: a slew of disparate elements creating a singularly bold architectural statement, and one that is highly appreciated by its users.
Client : Université Paris 13
Project : Construction of the Research Center for Humanities
Site : Campus Condorcet, La Plaine Saint-Denis (93), France
Status : Completed in 2015
Size : 9 067 m²
Team : Dubuisson Architecture (Lead Architect), Batiserf (Structure), VS-A (Facade), Alto Ingénierie (MEP, HVAC, Sustainability), Citae (Fire Safety), Peutz & Associés (Acoustics), BMF (Cost Consultant), ATPI Infra (Roads and Utilities), Mutabilis (Landscape)