Winner jury prize & People's choice

University of Law-Paris I, Modernisation of the Lourcine Barracks, Paris (13ᵉ)

Designed by: Chartier Dalix
For client: Epaurif Floor area: 9710.00 M² Year of completion: 2019
Submitted for: Learning Space of the Year

Public Score
6.59 Function
6.36 Innovation
6.58 Creativity
© Takuji Shimmura

A monumental winding staircase marks the entrance to the library at both the garden level and the ground floor up to the first floor. Its size makes it a remarkable architectural feature and reveals the volume of the building and the height of a whole.

About the Project

The former Lourcine barracks are located in Paris’ 13th district and comprise a parade ground with accompanying military buildings erected in 1875. The project calls for elements of the University of Paris I – library, lecture theatre, classrooms, offices – to be installed within the old buildings and in basement levels under the parade ground.

The project aims to make the most of this Parisian heritage, taking a precision approach that will as far as possible retain the existing spaces and preserve the historic character of the site. We are seeking to adapt the project and its new activities to the buildings without erasing their past. The parade ground retains its central, unifying and symbolic role, as a landscaped forecourt sloping down to frame the new access to the gallery and lecture theatre. Lecture and class rooms are inserted into the existing buildings, making the most of their spatial qualities (ceiling heights, noble materials).

What’s unique about it

"Building a city on a city" has long been the standard approach to urban renewal. Our modernity has largely ignored and further complicated this
practice that is now coming back all the more strongly due to the economic realities of construction being challenged by the severity of
environmental issues. Rehabilitating and preserving existing buildings, even over and above considerations of heritage, is becoming a viable
means of saving energy and sobriety, a source of reusable materials and a great opportunity to discover new uses resulting from conversion. Entering a building with its past life and its history, its previous uses, means imagining new stories to tell based on older tales and the richness of their promise. That is why we like to use the term "Metamorphosis" rather than rehabilitation: for us, it means building on the old to create something new and richer still than what might have been preserved.

02 Chartier Dalix Axonometrie
© Chartier Dalix

Rehabilitating and preserving existing buildings, even over and above considerations of heritage, is becoming a viable means of saving energy and sobriety, a source of reusable materials and a great opportunity to discover new uses resulting from conversion.

© Sergio Grazia (left), Takuji Shimmura (right)

In the upper floors, a wide and generous walkway filled with natural light provides the opportunity to create a meeting place over several floors: each floor is thus linked by the main, open staircase that provides direct access to the classrooms without taking the closed staircases.

© Sergio Grazia

For the interior design of the reading rooms in the library, we have chosen to position the aisles along the façades to allow the light to freely enter the building and thus free up the view of the succession of windows.

© Camille Gharbi (left), Sergio Grazia (right)

The qualities of the existing site are magnified by the complete freeing up of the spaces: the simple application of flocking on the underside of the arches (acoustics and fire prevention), as well as the complete absence of false ceilings, thus revealing the technical installations, helps to maintain the existing volumes.

© Camille Gharbi

Work on these buildings is carefully targeted and limited to the interior; the envelope remains almost untouched apart from altering the size of the doors leading to the outside to comply with modern standards but within the existing clearance. The works have been planned to ensure that the rough finishing leaves the existing structure and the nobility of the original materials visible.

© Camille Gharbi

The self-weathering steel, a warm, vibrant and changing material, accompanies the visitor throughout all the outside public areas and extends right into the interior.

© Takuji Shimmura

The 500-seat amphitheatre, a major feature of the Lourcine campus, is installed at the lowest point of the parade ground where the old car park was and along the north / south axis of the site. It is accessed through a gallery entirely covered with self-weathering steel that provides a continuity with the central esplanade.

© Sergio Grazia

The project to transform the Lourcine barracks in the 13th Arrondissement of Paris is ambitious and innovative, due to both its scale and above all to the new relationship it creates with the existing buildings. In the heart of a very built-up and innervated district where the barracks has hitherto formed a distinct area, opening up the site to its immediate environment helps to tell those new stories.

© Takuji Shimmura

The challenge for the project is to preserve a precious heritage that bears witness to the urban history of this district while altering it as little as possible. The idea is to change the organisation of the barracks buildings to perfectly suit their new intended functions.

Location of project:
Chartier Dalix

Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France

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