All images courtesy of Snøhetta.
International architecture studio Snøhetta has been chosen ahead of seven other high-profile names to design the future headquarters of the French newspaper Le Monde.
Twenty-five years after the construction of their headquarters in Falguière Street by Du Besset – Lyon Architects, and ten years after its installation in the premises of Blanqui Boulevard renovated by Christian De Portzamparc, Le Monde is preparing to move again (envisaged for 2017). The Le Monde group is an icon in the media world and its long standing reputation of integrity and quality is a measure for media houses worldwide. The Le Monde group has chosen a generous, open and accessible model. in this context, Snøhetta shall continue to strive for an architecture providing the public with the notion of ownership, emphasizing intimate relationships between the public and le monde. Snøhetta will work with French architecture studio SRA on the design.
structurally, the site is divided in two parts. however, snohetta believes it is important that le monde occupies one singular building. their approach has been one of subtraction, taking a block filling the entire site and subtracting volumes to create entrance areas and public spaces. these subtracted volumes also relate to the existing site planning restrictions and the capacities of the structural grid. the result is that the building becomes a bridge, literally spanning the site, but also symbolically representing the connection between le monde and its readers. the occupied link allows for direct contact between the company’s different departments. the bridge also connects the two parts of the city along the avenue de france.
‘Instead of water passing under the bridge, we have created a public open space; a plaza in two connected halves. One half faces the street and the seine. It is open, inviting, and activated by a visitor centre, auditorium entrance, and staff entrance. The second half faces the railway. It receives more direct sunlight, has a café and more intimate landscaping with seating and green areas’, explains Snøhetta.
The exterior of the building will be clad with ‘a pixelated matrix of glass’ with varying degrees of transparency, translucency, and opacity. The intention is that the façade gives the building a homogenous character when viewed from distance, but at the same time reveals a greater level of complexity as the view approaches – like the headlines and detailed content in a news story. The façade patterns are intended to represent the building as a complete volume, while the distorted pixel map creates a rich tapestry from inside and out.
In contrast, the vaulted ceilings over the plaza represent the transient flow of information like clouds or stars moving across the sky. They are formed from parts of a sphere or globe, and are also part of the overall structural solution. These surfaces will have embedded clusters of LEDs in a relatively low resolution grid that can be programmed to provide more or less abstracted levels of data. They can provide basic illumination or abstract representations of new flow.