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Photo: Vincent Baur

Playing with the topography: Culture centre in Saint Germain lès Arpajon

In the Parisian suburb of Saint Germain lès Arpajon, a new, two-storeyed culture centre primarily aligned to the topographical circumstances of the site provides a sheltered public passage through its premises. Flanked by a school and a cemetery, visitors are now able to pass through the U-shaped building and also discover its various parts en passant, so to speak.

The practically pillar-free rooms offer plenty of furnishing scope and provide the building the necessary flexibility. Instead of incorporating a terrace, the design focuses on the spatial relationships between the interior and exterior.  

The filigree curtain facade consists of closed, vertically profiled aluminium panels that are interspersed or replaced here and there – depending on spatial situation – by areas of glazing, even over longer distances. Referring back to the linearity of the aluminium panels, vertical strips are printed on the glass in a modification that provides a playful touch to the rigorously rectilinear composition. 

While the eastern and western facades feature large rooms that open up to the surroundings, the side wings accommodate smaller functional units.  In the interplay of interior and exterior, the transparent facades provide generous views into and out of the building. At the same time the filigree façade elements create alternating opaque and open areas in deliberate contrast to the fair-faced concrete and white walls within the complex. 

The colour and volume of the flat, double-tiered building enable it to sensitively merge in with its immediate surroundings. Its location between a cemetery and low neighbouring buildings allow sweeping views of the municipality. Cantilevered sections like the media library and the large dance studio seem to interact with the surroundings and draw them closer. The formal, structurally accomplished solution of the passage that cuts through the school now provides a link between Leuville road und the rive l’Orge path, interpreting the topography of the site en passant, so to speak.

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DETAIL 1+2/2020
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