Euravenir Tower, Lille, France In 1990, in his preface titled “Quantum Leap” for the work presenting the Euralille project [O.M.A., KOOLHAAS Rem, GOULET Patrice éd., Lille, Institut Français d’Architecture, (Éditions Carte Segrete, Paris: 1990). pg. 15], Rem Koolhaas wrote: “In our contemporary world, programs become abstract in the sense that they are no longer tied to a specific place or city. They float and gravitate opportunistically around those places that provides them with the most connections.” And then, “All these facts describe a new condition that is at once local and global, as important for the “Japanese” as it is for the “Lil- lois.” In explaining the Lille-Europe Project, this text allows us to understand that the intervention was tied at
once to the construction of Europe but also, more importantly, to the idea of inserting these places into a network of connected hyper-territories. OMA had fully integrated the idea that the scale of a neighborhood built around a train station could be increased and amplified to the point of totally loosening its formal connection to the old city. Twenty-six years on, this urban planning project has totally changed the face of Lille. The Euravenir Tower project occupies the last free parcel of Phase One of the Euralille Area, which began in 1998 with OMA’s project built in association with François Delhays. Is it possible to reassert a city through an architectural project? This bold question was the starting point for the project’s layout. The parcel’s strategic position, located at the intersec- tio
n of different axes, pushed our research towards a sophisticated solution that acts as a hub, as a stitch that brings together the elements gravitating around it. We strove for a “multiform” architecture whose geometry could provide a specific response to the various challenges tied to the project’s scale, geography, and program. By extending and crossing the axes within the parcel, the initial extrusion was carved to obtain a kind of small tower. By completing the Avenue Le Corbusier, this vertical element is also a corner building on the Place Valladolid and it signals the city to drivers coming up from the beltway below. This architecture has created a new urban space that combines private and public, vertical and horizontal. The base of the project provides inhabitants and office workers a public space that fosters social interaction; it functions on a human scale. Due to the prohibition from building out to the edge of the parcel, a kind of portico provides a sense of porosity as well as protection from inclement weather. It is a lively outdoor space where people who live and work in the building can mingle with passers-by and shop customers. This office project has a very flexible program; form dictates use, and not vice-versa. Each level is organized around a central core that holds all the servant spaces and vertical circulations. The office floor areas were conceived to allow for a flexible, rational layout and to encourage the division of the floor spaces into two equivalent surfaces. Moreover, the tower’s geometric faceting at once frees up the views and opens up the entire intersection to the wooded background of the cemetery to the north. In order to complete this process of interrelation, the facades were designed to become a series of windows that pro- vide a 360-degree panorama of the city, framing views of the city’s newer parts, its green spaces, and the downtown. The materiality of the facades: lattices and copper The building’s envelope was designed as a way to visually reinvent the city. The facades are characterized by different designs in response to their orientation, their usage, and their thermal requirements. In this way, areas that are predomi- nantly glass, some parts of which have a double skin, are juxtaposed with different forms of copper cladding that are more or less porous. The design of the facades and the building spaces is governed by the principal lattice pattern, 1.35 meters in height, which runs around the entire top of the building. It is marked by a U-shaped metal component to which the various ele- ments that make up the envelope are attached. This vertical motif is interrupted by three different bands that emphasize the building’s horizontal composition and form a sort of crown at the level of the acroterium. A secondary motif formed by the bands and the trumeaus cuts out the facades. The building’s support structure is in concrete with prefabricated facades made of varied panels of pre-oxidized copper. The pre-oxidizing allows the copper to become a matte brown, which however does not represent a significant visual change. This finishing minimizes the markings from construction and precipitation that can appear over time, guarantee- ing the durability of the material’s appearance. Sustainability The building is insulated on the outside by both the facades and the terrace. Double flux ventilation cools and heats the spaces. Each interior unit has an electronic control system that maintains a precise temperature in the space, defines temperature ranges, heating or cooling functions, and also identifies failures and clogging of the filters. To limit energy consumption, the climate control system for the offices is equipped with a device that recovers energy between new air and extracted air. The presence of perforated copper cassettes on the exterior glass contributes to the light transmission of this glass; the perforation varies depending on the façade direction and the consequent level of exposure to sunlight, opening in the disadvantaged areas, and restricting in the overexposed zones. One thereby makes the most of the natural lighting in the spaces, which reduces electricity consumption, internal contributions, and cooling needs. Moreover, glare is controlled completely by the interior mobile blinds. The artificial lighting is regulated by motion sensors and in gradual relation to the natural light to optimize the link between natural light, artificial lighting, and energy efficiency. In October 2014, the Euravenir Tower received the “HPE niveau BBC Effinergie 2005” label. LAN LAN (Local Architecture Network) was founded by Benoit Jallon and Umberto Napolitano in 2002 with the intent of exploring architecture as the intersection of several disciplines. This approach has today become a working method, and it has allowed the firm to explore new territories and to develop a vision that encompasses social, urban planning, functional, and formal issues. The firm’s projects consider this universe of possibilities at all different scales and contexts, and they have been recognized on multiple occasions in France and across the world, be they sophisticated architectural objects such as the EDF National Archives or experimental housing developments (Paris, Bègles, Beirut), commercial buildings (the Euravenir Tower in Lille), cultural projects (the Théâtre du Maillon and most recently the Grand Palais) or urban planning projects (the Brossette neighborhood in Île de Nantes and the Neue Hamburger Terrassen housing development).