Triptyque Architecture and Philippe Starck have teamed up in the Montparnasse neighbourhood for a multi-purpose edifice acting as a frame to a verdant vertical garden
The term "tropicalisation" is also used to describe the state that westerners returning from life in the tropics experience when they find it hard to re-adapt to their country of origin. Anyone who has lived in Brazil knows this, and the French-Brazilian studio Triptyque Architecture translates this way of thinking and living into built structures, determined to instil the warmth of tropical life and its social-oriented ethics. The Tropicália architectural approach encourages entropic elements capable of upsetting excessive order in cities, incorporates sensuality within stiff modern urban contexts, and gives projects a certain degree of independence, making them detached even from their own designers.
This was the departure point for the studio Triptyque Architecture, with Philippe Starck as art and architecture director, when it designed Villa M ‒ a multi-purpose edifice on Boulevard Pasteur in the Parisian district of Montparnasse ‒ commissioned by Groupe Pasteur Mutualité.
With a floor area of 8,000 m2, the building has been conceived in a minimalist manner: a metal skeleton of prefabricated pillars and girders stands as its structure and perimeter. The volume has been devised as support for a vertical garden made up of medicinal plants and fruit trees of medium and large sizes, and these will grow to occupy the entire façade, becoming the main architecture. Besides the most poetic and typical features of the Tropicália approach, such vegetation surfaces also go to improving the thermal comfort of the interior spaces as well as the energy efficiency of the entire building, particularly ushering in organic materials and low-tech construction methods.
So nature becomes the foundations in the creations by Triptyque Architecture, which stands out on the urban landscape, enriching it with new meaning. Architecture can have the purpose of bringing nature into the city, enabling citizens to enjoy a new urban experience, in contact with people's deepest and most ancestral needs.
Villa M has been envisaged to blend unusual and mixed businesses and activities: its eight floors will house a hotel, a restaurant, a conference area, a co-working space and an innovative and dynamic health clinic with a showroom for medical start-ups ‒ all with the idea of fostering meetings, exchange and mutual support between people specialised in different segments of the health and medical field.
The coronavirus emergency of recent years has taken topics connected with health to go beyond hospital walls, extending into the entire city and changing relationships between citizens. Conceived before the Covid-19 pandemic, the revolutionary vision for Villa M stimulates a mutual openness between the city and health assistance, in an attractive and appealing context.
Nature and a hybrid purpose are two features that make Villa M a model for shaping cities of the future; exploration that Triptyque Architecture began with the Brazilian project Harmonia 57 in São Paulo and carried forward in Paris in the teamwork with the landscaper Pablo Georgieff from Coloco. Strengthening aspects already dear to Triptyque, Villa M is a Tropicália manifesto where experimentation, improvisation, entropy and hybridisation spill onto and take over the order and rigour of the Parisian boulevards.
Client: Groupe Pasteur Mutualité
Built-up Area: 8.000 m²
Architect: Triptyque Architecture + Philippe Starck
Main Contractor: Eiffage Construction
Photography by Michael Denancé or Yann Monel, courtesy of Triptyque Architecture + Philippe Starck