Manuelle Gautrand Architecture completes new office building designed for flexibility
The site of this building is near the main train station, in an area undergoing redevelopment that will bring high density land use and become a vital liaison point between the centre of Saint-Etienne and the new Chateaucreux neighbourhood, to which it forms a major entranceway.
The building (property developer: Altarea-Cogedim) constitutes a pole grouping several government bodies that will set up there; Regional Development Authority, Tax Services, Epora, Saint-Etienne Métropole, a.s.o. Service and leisure facilities will also be part of the mix; including a shared corporate restaurant, café, and parking. The total area is 25,000 sq m. The idea is to develop a long-built ‘continuum’ on the site to interact with adjacent streets. A linear construction that rears up and unfolds but also hugs the ground line to form a low accessible building - one that opens up spacious courts and lifts bold overhangs.
The architects' desire for continuity in construction does not simply reflect the idea of building a legible and unitary urban landmark, it also provides the flexibility that the project needs. In fact, the principle behind this continuum is to imagine a set of ‘communicating parts’ that enable the user-administrations to merge into a whole, one and all, and to evolve according to their needs in harmony with those of other tenants.
The absence of breaks in surfaces will ensure that things remain open-ended, with the possibility of extending or reducing space. Depending on their needs, tenants will be able to extend or reduce the floor-space they occupy. The project is like a large ‘Aztec serpent’ rising on the lot. Its body has three identical outer faces, and an underside that is different: a skin of silvery transparent scales and a bright yellow ‘throat’, shiny and opaque.