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Tribunal de Paris, Renzo Piano Building Workshop

De lege artis: Renzo Piano Building Workshop designs Tribunal de Paris

In contrast to the French government’s preliminary ideas to split the new structure into two functionally separated buildings, the architects decided in favour of one monumental edifice. With a height of about 160 m, the new courthouse is one more in a series of remarkable buildings in the French capital. Distributed over 40 storeys, courtrooms and offices are accommodated in around 100,000 square metres.

The courthouse building is located at the edge of the centre of Paris. It is bordered to the north by the Périphérique and to the east by the Parc Martin Luther King. It comprises four volumes. The lowest level forms a plinth; three more parts are stacked atop it to create a tapering tower. While the plinth’s L-shaped floor plan echoes the shape of the lot, the size of the upper storeys decreases as the height of the building increases. This produces a tiered effect. Despite its enormous proportions, the skyscraper looks light and airy. This impression is accentuated by an intelligent, double-glazed façade which gives the building a uniform shell that is interrupted only along its longitudinal sides by external panorama elevators. These seem to hold the building together, rather like a spine.

The architects conceptualized the courthouse as a green building. There are large rooftop terraces on top of the stacked-up bodies. Trees and plants provide leisure areas and give the impression that the adjacent park extends over the new structure. Photovoltaic panels, natural ventilation and rainwater use round out the sustainable concept.

Facing the park to the east, a triangular forecourt stretches out in front of the palace of justice, inviting visitors to come in. Positioned centrally to the east façade, this courtyard also leads to the main entrance, which in turn leads into the spacious lobby. In some areas, this lobby takes up the entire height of the plinth, measuring up to 28 m, and is zoned by delicate steel supports. Along with two small adjoining atriums, it coordinates circulation through the building and brings everything together as one functional unit. The access paths are organized around this central area in the form of escalators, stairways and open galleries. Round skylights lie like a skin on the roof and are an eye-catcher in themselves. Daylight streams in through these skylights and the generous glazing of the façade.

Programmatically, the plinth houses the 90-odd courtrooms as well as rooms for meetings and discussions. The tower accommodates offices and smaller units. The design of the interior spaces laid great value on wood, particularly in the courtrooms. They are clad in parquet flooring and beech panelling; along with white accents, they give the courtrooms and the sleek interior a warm character.

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