Special branch...

Sian
Monday 10 Sep 2012

Zaha Hadid Architects completes tree trunk-inspired Pierres Vives Building in Montpellier


This coming Thursday, Zaha Hadid’s latest project in France will be inaugurated. The Pierres Vives Building in Montpellier, Southern France is a bold new addition to the landscape, bringing together three previously separate branches of the Herault regional government. Hadid has completed a handful of projects in France, the first being the surprisingly subtle Hoenheim-Nord Terminus and Car Park in Strasbourg, realised in 2001.

On this more recent scheme, the architect’s strong design aesthetic is much more apparent. The burgeoning city of Montpellier - the fastest growing city in France - has been injected with an amalgamation of concrete and green-tinted glass, within which the city archive, library and sports department are enveloped.

As design inspiration, Hadid looked to a felled tree, using the imagery of spreading branches to devise a network of passages and circulation routes to keep the three departments separate yet easily navigable within the 35,000 sq m facility. Each of the three areas has its own set of cores for internal vertical circulation.

Zaha Hadid Architects explains: “The archive is located at the solid base of the trunk, followed by the slightly more porous library with the sports department and its well-lit offices on top where the trunk bifurcates and becomes much lighter. The branches projecting off the main trunk are articulating the points of access and the entrances into the various institutions…In this way the tree-trunk analogy is exploited to organise and articulate the complexity of the overall ‘cite administrative’.”

The mass of raw concrete so often found in Hadid’s work is sliced through with a shot of green-tinted glass which runs the length of the building. This strip marks the main public artery on level one, leading to the reading rooms of the archives and the library, easing wayfinding and enabling generous daylighting for these public spaces.

While the epicentres of the archive, library and sports department are kept entirely independent from one another, there are certain areas which are for general usage such as the main auditorium and meeting rooms. These public function spaces are located in the immense cantilevering volume which overhangs the main entrance to Pierres Vives in a classic example of Hadid’s confident architectural expression.

Sian Disson
News Editor

Key Facts

Architecture
France
Commercial Offices

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team
Jobs
  • Town Planning Manager | Housebuilder in Surrey | 3+ years' PQE

    Are you a Town Planner with some commercial experience under your belt (consultancy or developer)? Would you like to work for a regional housebuild...
    • Lewis Davey
    • Surrey - near M25/M23 junction
  • Principal Planning Consultant (Policy)

    This is a career opportunity for somebody looking to play a key role in the delivery of an effective and efficient planning policy service.
    • Capita
    • Manchester/Salford (North West) or Breckland or North Tyneside or Barnet (North London)
  • Senior Planning Officer

    A vacancy has arisen in the Development Management Section of the Planning Services Division for a part-time Senior Planning Officer.
    • South Derbyshire District Council
    • Derbyshire
  • Planning Officers

    Work as key members of the Councils development management service providing pre-application advice, dealing with applications and appeals.
    • Chiltern and South Bucks Council
    • Amersham, Buckinghamshire
  • Enforcement Officer - Hertfordshire

    A Local Authority in Hertfordshire are looking for an Enforcement Officer to assist them with a backlog of cases for an initial contract of 3-6 months
    • Oyster Partnership
    • Hertfordshire