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Conversion of University of Paris-X in Nanterre

Located on a campus in Nanterre, north-east of Paris, the existing building fabric, dating from the 1960s, contained mostly bare, sombre spaces without natural lighting. All this has now been changed. The entrance area, for example, has been enlivened with large furnishing installations: the parquet flooring is drawn up the face of the reception desk and continues beneath the wooden seating of the information area. The diagonal layout of the ceiling leads visitors into the 10 x 70 m main circulation hall. Here, as in other areas, the soffit is treated as a furnishing element, interacting in a three-dimensional form with the space beneath. The openings cut in the concrete-rib roof over the hall have been enclosed in polycarbonate sheeting to form light boxes – luminous elements that have transformed this formerly dingy area into a brightly lit space. At night, the boxes are illuminated by external lamps. In addition, light fittings in the suspended soffit serve to articulate various spatial zones. These lighting effects are heightened by the walls, with their iridescent colours and mirrors, and by the smooth, pale marble flooring. In contrast to the bold coloration of the freshly designed spaces, the corridors, flanked by new daylight patios, are monochrome in colour. The walls were fully glazed, with a vivid yellow film inserted between the layers of glass in some areas to create a lively sunny atmosphere – even when the weather is dull outside.

This article is taken out of the following magazine:
DETAIL 4/2004

Building with Light

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