Ameller, Dubois & Associés completes new police station close to historic neighbourhood in Provins
Situated on the Place du 29e Dragons - the planning of which is part of the project - the police station is on the edge of what is essentially a pavilions zone near the northern gate to the medieval city of Provins; a site included on UNESCO's World Heritage List since 2001. This highly symbolic position gives the building an important status: it must maintain the continuity between the residential quarters of the north and the historic centre of the south, doing so when viewed from each direction, including when seen from above. This urban continuity is achieved through the use of a single continuous base, from which the compact form rises, lifted off, highlighting the presence of the building in its environment.
The base, comprising retaining wall, ground floor and parking lot, is surrounded by a concrete wall covered with local white stone. A green roof helps ‘soften’ the building when seen from a higher vantage point, while artificial lighting integrated within the outside wall punctuates the base. This sheath imbues the building with an air of nobility, while ensuring its protection and its relation to the city's history. The storeys above appear suspended, emphasising a contemporary character and reaffirming clearly the building’s vocation as an important public service.
The lifted form contains two plateaus freed from each other, filled with various modular offices and locales, leaving space for a continuous glass sheeting of the outside surfaces that filters natural light through to the offices via transom windows. The more confidential quarters are wrapped in thick concrete, pierced here and there with glass openings to let light in. The front faces west to the promenade and is made of glass dressed with copper slats, angled slightly downwards, making it an extension of the roofing surface. Its treatment, in contrast with the thick mineral sheeting of the other three facades, emphasises the frontal aspects of the police station; at once open to the city but protected, the building is seen as both a city gate and an institution.
The compact layout allows synergy between services while letting them be independent and reducing operating costs. The building materials require little maintenance. The metal slats of the principal facade ensure natural lighting and spectacular views, but good protection from the sun, while maintaining confidentiality for those inside. This metallic wrap is set 60 cm from the facade to leave space for a path for maintenance crews. The patio and the loggia that run alongside the promenade bring light and some plant life to the heart of the police station. The central patio is a reference point and a meeting place that serves as a cohesive element between the services; it lights the interiors further, creates transparencies and breathes in some space.
The construction kept in mind the evolution of the building, relying on structures held up with posts and beams that leave room to move around and reshape interior spaces. Services can be added, relocated and enlarged all while conserving the spatial structure, the natural light and the fluidity of the general organisation at each level.