The “Plateau de Paris-Saclay” is a university campus in France located 20 kilometers [12.43 miles] south of Paris. In 2013, a competition was held by the CEA (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique) for a neuroscience institute to accommodate about 350 scientists and 40 students. The winning proposal was designed by Dietmar Feichtinger Architects as the lead team, together with Celnikier & Grabli Architects.
The Institute for Neuroscience opened in March 2020. The Institute is a four-story building with a triangular, single-story volume entrance that protrudes from the south façade. The generously glazed foyer and the adjoining auditorium is where lectures and various events are hosted and can be extended to the forecourt through wide-opening glass doors. In the basement and ground floor there are laboratories with animals which require controlled light and temperature conditions. The offices and laboratories for scientists are on the upper levels. The brief required research areas, laboratories, offices, auditoriums and a foyer that all needed varied access restrictions.
The Institute of Neurosciences is surrounded by trees and follows the axes of the neighboring research buildings. The roof of the building tapers slightly upwards. Its underside, made of stainless steel and depending on the angle of view and daylight, is constantly changing. The stainless steel is reflected in the reception area where a single flight of stairs leads to the gallery on the first floor. Ribbon windows with low balustrades afford daylight. There are three central courtyards that provide green spaces.
As Dietmar Feichtinger stated: "Ensuring constantly controlled conditions for scientific research was a technical challenge. We also wanted to create spatial qualities such as natural daylight, fresh air, and a relation to the surrounding. We fulfill both aspects with equal priority".
A façade of concrete panels and narrow glass slits surrounds the research area behind it. The upper levels where the scientists work has open rooms with plenty of daylight and beautiful views, and the offices are equipped with soundproofing panels on the ceiling. A rear loading area is used for the delivery of animal feed, living organisms and waste collect. The three inner courtyards with greenery and sun terraces serve as open outdoor spaces and provide natural light not only for the offices, but also for the laboratories in the depth of the building. The walls on the corridor side are partially glass. The grid, load-bearing access cores and lightweight construction walls make it possible for reprogramming as required.
The three levels are clearly structured. Along the horizontal window, stripes of the façade are made of metal panels that flank the courtyards. Opal glass panels are utilized towards the outside. The offices and laboratories are aligned along a bright central corridor from which two further corridors run at right angles. These corridors are cleverly connected by glass walkways to the offices and opposite laboratories.
Location: Plateau de Paris-Saclay
Completion date: March 2020
Built-up area: 6.480 mq
Floor area: 19.046 mq
Lead Architect: Dietmar Feichtinger Architects
Architect: Celnikier & Grabli Architects
Engineers: Ingerop Conseil & Ingénierie
Photographer: David Boureau
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