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A study of site & surroundings

by SUZANNE MIAO on Aug 16, 2011 in Architecture , Interiors
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 Paris-based architects Beckmann N’Thepe’s describe how their design for a new library celebrates its history and welcomes the future

Project manager Hélène Méhats
Architects Fabio Cummaudo, Wilfried Daufy, Anne-Catherine Dufros, Marc Durand, Nicolas Gaudard, Thamila Hamiti, David Malaval, David Tajchman, Frédéric Taupin
Assistant architects Amélie Authier, Maïté Dupont, Li Fang, Linna Lay, Laetitia Pignol

Envisioned as the future heart and social centre of the Marne-la-Vallée campus, the university’s new central library boasts the significant advantage of being located on a unique site: the Ferme de la Haute Maison. Dating from the 17th century, this historic site endows the building with a strategic role, in that – according to design architects Beckmann N’Thepe – its identity does not just stem from the quality of the construction.

The library’s identity is also informed by the surrounding moat, which extends into a water garden, and the central courtyard. Positioned along the horizontal line of the existing gutters, the two parts of the building are marked and differentiated. The lower lever reception area creates a frontality with part of the preserved farm; simple and rectilinear, it drops down towards the moat, where it provides the support for the upper level reading rooms. A suspended volume, it extends into the garden, pierced by projecting golden glass inclusions and patios which bring natural lighting from below.

Inside, calm is communicated via a white palette, while plants are used to create spatial sequences and provide additional visual interest. Private and public spaces are clearly separated and marked to easily enable flow between them, and also allowing large functional entities to be quickly identified by their morphology and location.

How did Beckmann N’Thepe come to be involved in this project? Is this a common typology for the practice?

We won the competition for building the new Marne-la-Vallée University Library in 2006. It is our first library project, though we also regularly work on educational projects.

What is the ‘Ferme de la Haute Maison’? What is its historic importance?

‘Ferme de la Haute Maison’ is the name of the building site, which was a fortified farm with natural moats. Our project is located on one-half of it, the other half has been kept by the state in order to preserve one of the last symbolic trace of the former Marne-la-Vallée agricultural past.

Read the full story in the September 2011 issue of Perspective magazine! 

 

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