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Video: Grafton Architects' Institut Mines Telecom in Paris

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Grafton Architects has released this flythrough of its competition-winning scheme for the Institut Mines Telecom in Paris

The 46,200m² building, designed for a greenfield site on the new campus of Paris Saclay. It will act as the new home for the institute as well as France’s Grand Ecoles Telecom Paristech and Telecom SudParis.

The project includes research offices, doctorates rooms and directors offices.  

Won following an international contest in 2013, the scheme is arranged around six spaces – five of which are courtyards and the fifth is a quadrangle space.

The architect’s view

‘Designing for a greenfield site, we felt it was important to generate and hold energy within the form. The beautiful colour of the earth in Paris Saclay defines the colour of the building.

‘The masterplan showed an idea of a necklace of ‘green rooms’, referring to the traditional university quad, the monastic cloister. We took this as a starting point as well as the beautiful requirement to plant 100 trees on our site.

‘We also looked at the compression and release of spaces in the Mosque- cathedral in Cordoba, half garden half dense building. Many buildings in Paris consist of inhabited thin walls, enclosing grand public spaces, gardens, interior worlds, the Palais Royal being a wonderful example.

‘Examples like the Palais Royal and the timeless Greek Stoa reminded us of the power of repetition and proportion. Researching the scale we discovered that the IMT site is exactly 2/3 the size of Ospedale Maggiore in Milan which we much admire.

Giuseppe Terragni’s buildings provide more contemporary reference points for us in the making of repetitive elegant enclosing walls and facades with a classical and musical rhythm.

‘The ground floor is open and permeable. Spatial and social interaction with Place Metro to the north and with the surrounding streets is encouraged by this openness. The enclosure is formed by the repetitive offices at the upper levels. The intense educational activity rotates around four protected courtyards with a fifth glazed central court forming the social heart of the building.

‘Views to the interior world can be enjoyed from the surrounding streets and spaces. Sunlight fills the garden and lights up the corners and the entry points. The façade is thought about as vertical contours, creating a musical rhythm of light and shade, openness and enclosure, capturing the light and energy within, allowing this energy to spill onto the public spaces at its edges’.

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