Clément Blanchet Architecture was appointed as the architect for the new Carrefour research and development center after an intense competition against various architects around the world. The project aims to provide to the Carrefour Group a strategic ecosystem to support and accelerate its transformation.
What place is better than to be located in the heart of the French Silicon Valley, within an eco-system of excellence? The project highlights ‘’ the privilege of the site ‘’ by opening its natural spaces to knowledge. At first, the place feels untouched because the site is largely defined by the presence of abundant vegetation and a pre-existing farm.
The architecture will create the link between the users within this new knowledge farm. The originality of the program, who gathers 3 major poles (laboratories, executive education, and a learning lab), requires an inspirational architectural setting which amplifies both the specificities of the uses, and the uniqueness of the Carrefour identity..
Four major architectural interventions structure the project:
– the very dense program was fragmented
– the programmatic entities were opened towards the landscape
– the program was reorganized as needed: from the most private to the most public.
– all the programmatic entities were reunited by a roof capable of making visible the institution at the scale of the large territory.
To respond to this dense programming, we have rationalized the demand for a collective and social ambition. Instead of compartmentalizing each universe of the building, we wondered about their potential complementarily by seeking to create a framework which fosters the exchange of ideas and knowledge and provides the opportunity to live in a shared environment.
The deconstruction and reconstruction of the program allows the creation of a social forum which becomes the heart of the Université des Métiers (UDM): a mixing chamber of knowledges. This will be the place of collective life: access to the auditorium, showroom, cafeteria and work area with a view over the eco-system of the UDM.
At the same time the main hall becomes a device of maximum adaptability to future developments in research and teaching. The mobile partitions allow the extension or the shrinking of the spaces, the adding of a new block in the center, the possibility to turn an office space into a laboratory or vice versa.
The position of the different programmatic nodes respects their internal logic but in the same time enhance the synergy and the proximity between the different types of users: young entrepreneurs coexist with researchers and meet Carrefour Group executives passing by for a seminar. The forum offers the visitor a scientific background and an overview of the Carrefour galaxy.
The possibility to circulate freely gives any user immediate access to knowledge and multiplies the opportunities for meetings. A productive landscape protects and feeds the new center (UDM). The aim is to go beyond formal design and to transform the site into a true living environment. In the same time this exquisite corpse evokes a return to agriculture of the past that is placed on a rational frame.
At the contact with the Université des Métiers the green spaces become «greenhouses» and «green lobbies» that reconnect nature to knowledge. They restore and pay tribute to the close link that the Carrefour group has developed with agriculture. The architecture makes the Carrefour research and development center a visible device in the city, by day and by night, a suggestion of the intellectual effervescence that it hosts. Source by Clément Blanchet Architecture.
- Location: Saclay, France
- Architect: Clément Blanchet Architecture
- Engineering:TESSIngénierie, Alto Ingénierie
- Scenography: dUCKs Sceno
- Renderings / moving images: ROBOTA
- Landscape architect: MUGO
- Expert consultant: ARWYTEC, LTA, WSP France
- Client: Carrefour
- Status: won Competition – Building Permit
- Program: 8,500m2 (learning center, auditorium, restaurant, labs, etc…)
- Date: 2017 – 2020
- Images: Courtesy of Clément Blanchet Architecture
Article by Marco Rinaldi