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archi5, Paris, Poissonniers

Gardening up on the Roof: Poissonniers Sports Centre in Paris

The sports and events centre in the 18th arrondissement marks the start of a programme for urban regeneration at the former SNCF grounds near Porte des Poissonniers, which has lent the Centre sportif its name. The fact that various functions can be consolidated under a single roof is not that unusual, yet the mix of uses at the Centre sportif is nevertheless somewhat surprising. As can be expected, the volume contains a large sports hall, changing rooms, a foyer and a smaller multi-purpose room but its functional programme also extends to the roof, where an urban farm including greenhouses and public-use gardens is to come about.

The building is an expression of the endeavour by the architects at archi5 to unite nature and architecture, with the volume’s stepped topography and careful design of the outer spaces emphasising a landscape character. As such the volume constitutes the continuation of a small existing park, from where a pathway leads along the façade and up to the roof. The path is conceived as a training track or simply as a promenade for people wanting to take a stroll or go jogging, no matter whether the centre is open or not. The route starts out as a tree-lined pathway and continues through greened terraces and then upwards, becoming a series of increasingly plain steps before reaching the “farm” on the roof. Inspiration was taken here from the idea of a mountain. 

The large sports hall required a closely-meshed steel structure to support the heavy loads the farm and the greenhouses and garden beds will be exerting in future. Its interior walls are clad in wooden slats behind which sound absorbers are concealed.  For the façades, the architects chose a wooden structure, interrupted by horizontal banding in front of the roof fascias that are surfaced in white glazed brick and underscored by stratification of the terraced building. Geothermal energy is used to heat the sports centre via the ground piles of its foundations.

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