Pierres Vives Form and Function fuse to create expressive and dynamic Civic Spaces | The Plan
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Pierres Vives Form and Function fuse to create expressive and dynamic Civic Spaces

Zaha Hadid Architects

Europa | Montpellier

“I don’t design nice buildings,” says Zaha Hadid, “I like architecture to have some raw, vital, earthy quality.” Those adjectives aptly describe Pierres Vives, a dynamic complex located on the western edge of Montpellier, a fast expanding city in southern France. Zaha Hadid Architects won the 2003 competition to create this integrated facility for the Département de l’Hérault, and, though the program was trimmed over five years of preparation, her vision survived intact. She likens it to a large tree trunk laid horizontally, with the regional archives at the base, the more porous library and public spaces at the center, and the well-lit offices for sports officials at the end where the trunk bifurcates. That natural metaphor captures the fluidity of exterior lines and internal spaces, but the three-dimensional geometry of the facades has the brutal grace of the Russian Constructivists,...

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