ENSAE Paristech: Capturing the Landscape

Architects: CAB Architectes
Location: Palaiseau, France
Area: 15.300 m2
Year: 2017
Photography: Aldo Amoretti

When we discovered the immense sky and the plateau devoid of physical constraints, we sought, by a simple form and an abstract writing, to capture the landscape. The vibrating proximity of the edge of the woods revealed an intuition related to the material: it was necessary, in this country site, to touch the ground gently. To that end, we chose to design the project as a steel exoskeleton.

Inscribed in a 80 m x 80 m square, the building is an open, welcoming and urban place, but it borrows the notion of an interior landscape from the shape of the cloister. The continuous 3.05 m x 2.10 m grid made with HEB profiles measuring 24 cm x 24cm, weaves the entire project and draws its architecture.

With no intermediate support points, metal beams (PRS) with a span of 15 m connect one façade to the other. They are connected to the exostructure by reduced steel connectors of 15 cm x 15 cm to limit their impact.

The structural grid was built like a giant Meccano structure and, appearing on the horizon like a spidery figure, it emphasizes the mainly dry nature of the site.

Inside, the structure remains present because it is always visible, recalling that the constructive expression lies at the root of both the order and the meaning: “I no longer separate the idea of ​​the temple from that of its edification,” (Eupalinos, Paul Valéry).