Recently the Berlin and Paris based LIN Architects unveiled the „Centre International du Design”, a new institution for communication, research and education in design. The meshed structure is situated on the historic site of the National Arms Manufacture in St. Etienne.
It involves the renovation of several historic buildings, as well as the integration of a new building the ‘platine’ (200 x32 m), an observation tower (31m high), two gardens and the Place d’Armes, a public esplanade.
Here is what the architects explain:
Cité du design
Located on the Manufacture Nationale d’Armes site in the heart of the Saint Etienne historical complex, the Cité du design brings about a conjunction between the industrial heritage of the city and investment in creation, research and training for the future. This new institution brings together the École supérieure d’art et de design, the Saint-Etienne International Design Biennial and a Vocational Training Centre; the invitation to its architectural design implies, then, respect for patrimonial continuity and historical legitimacy endorsing cohesion of all these activities.
The project was designed based on major elements of the site – the Hanging Gardens, the Place d’Armes, the Bâtiment de l’Horloge, the Ateliers and the Grande Usine – and a new connecting element, the structure of a slender building, the Platine. This is thought of as the articulation between the hierarchical figure and the site’s heritage discontinuity and the continuous matrix required by the institutional programme. It facilitates cross-connections between the centres of a non-hierarchical network and provides covered public transit, hosting the most open activities of the Cité du design. Indeed, this monospace brings together the communicative activities in the Agora, the exhibition halls, the auditorium and the material library. A place of merging and irrigation for the site, relative to the town, its exact positioning in the area makes it function as an inner street, interfering as little as possible with the visibility of the Bâtiment de l’Horloge and allows visual integration with the Place d’Armes and the town centre as well.
Structure of the Platine
The structure of the Platine is a kind of latticed unit , formed by a three dimensional mesh consisting of metallic profiles of minimum size and based on a 2.10 m frame. It becomes both the roof and walls. The homogeneity and distribution of forces in all directions generate a non-hierarchical structure – a monospace free of any intermediate support.
Seen from inside, the minimal dimensions of the profiles transform the structure into a vibration marking the boundary between the interior and the exterior.
The Platine’s envelope, consisting of 14,000 equilateral triangles of 1.20 m per side is a graduated and reactive skin: modulation between opaque and clear, insulated or interclimatic, open or closed, reflects and accompanies the various cycles and interactions of the Cité du design.
In order to achieve the differentiated ambiences and performances for each space of the Platine, the types of modules are combined according to their characteristics.
The choice of glazing type allows a distribution of natural light depending on the use of the premises. Thermal qualities of the panels permit the climatic quality of the envelope to be modulated according to unplanned criteria of the premises.
The opportunity to integrate solar panels (photovoltaic and experimental) in the skin of the Platine will allow solar energy production, as well as development and testing of innovative solar energy materials.
The skin reacts continuously to changes in climate. It may also be given new functions. In the longer term, the panels may be replaced or modified to be adapted to changing needs or to expand the areas of experimentation.