Dominique Lyon Architectes

University of Paris Saclay Physics department building

The building sits on the edge of a vast scientific campus across a forest. Its entrance façade marks the northern limit to a large square. It will house lecture halls, classrooms and laboratories.
It consists of an approximately 8 meter-high base over which stands a four-story building that fades off diagonally.
The plan of the campus equally combines buildings and planted areas. It creates green continuities and at the location of our building opens onto the forest, onto the great landscape. In this exceptional place, nature and construction must find a way of uniting.
This necessary unison unfolds in four movements. First, the swaying of the upper part of the building allows opening up a clear view of the forest from the main square. The formidable green body then becomes a background for the buildings : nature balances the architecture. Secondly, the slanted position of the upper part of the building reduces the shadow that the north-facing entrance façade casts on the square.
Moreover, the 8 meter-high base equals the scale of the neighboring building, the “Maison de l’ingénieur”, which a taller construction would have subdued.
Then, the urban plan establishes a landscaping continuity between the “Place du lieu de vie” and the forest. We increase that link by performing a cut on the base of the building, which accommodates a small planted square facing south. It will create a step between the square and the forest. The entrance hall runs from north to south at the back. That connection offers an opportunity to lessen the hierarchy between front and rear facades.
Finally, since the building allows room for nature, the trees play an active part in the architecture. They become part of it : the base is interspersed with two densely tree-planted groves that act as counterpoints for the small corner tower created by the angle of the building.
The living spaces for students and teachers are arranged throughout the different floors of the building. Both the hall and the staircases are visible on the building and stand out on the facades. These premises benefit from exceptional locations and vistas. The building is alluring because it is lively and displays living circumstances that are diversified and attractive.

Client : Université Paris Sud 11
Site : Faculty of Physics and Astronomy in Orsay (91)
Programm : tudy rooms, amphitheatre, cafeteria, labs, observatory, administration
Competition : October 2014
Delivred : end of 2018
Surface area : 10 000 m² SHON
Cost : 18.80 M€ ht