Dominique Lyon Architectes

Paris Saclay University Building, Orsay

The building is located on the verge of a vast scientific campus, next to a forest, and its main facade constitutes the northern limit of a large square.
It will host lecture halls, classrooms and laboratories.

It is made of an 8m high square base surmounted by a four level construction set on a diagonal.
The campus plan blends in equal parts buildings and trees. It establishes a continuous grid for the greenery, which ends up on the forest, on the broad landscape, when it reaches our building. At this exceptional meeting point construction and nature must find a way to unite themselves.

This necessary union comes in four movements :

  • The fact that the upper part of the building is set on a diagonal clears the view from the main square over the forest. This imposing vegetal mass serves as a background to the construction. Nature balances architecture.
  • The diagonal arrangement reduces the building’s shadow on the main square and enables the sunshine to reach its north end.
  • The urban plan establishes a landscaped continuity between the main square and the forest. We strengthen this link by practicing a cut in the base which hosts a south facing plaza. It constitutes a stage between the square and the forest. The lobby, which goes through the base, establishes a direct relation between the northern square and the southern plaza. This relationship helps erase the hierarchy between front and back of the construction.
  • As the building leaves space for nature, so does the trees fulfil an architectural role. They are part of its composition : the base is punctuated by two clusters of densely planted trees that serve as counterpoints to the small corner tower formed by the diagonal.

The social spaces reserved for students and researchers are distributed across all floors of the building. With the lobby and the main stair case, they draw a path on the facades. They stand out of the building and enjoy exceptional views
The building is engaging because it is animated, and because one can imagine that its social spaces are both diverse 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