Renovation Award of Excellence: Renovation Laboratory Necker, Paris

Jerome Masclaux
Université de Paris - EPAURIF, Paris

Thomas Polster
Henn GmbH, Berlin

Affirming a Legacy, Forging the Future

The laboratory tower of the Necker Medical Department of Paris Descartes University, designed in 1966 by André Wogenscky, a student of Le Corbusier, is located between the Eiffel Tower and the Gare Montparnasse in the 15th arrondissement. Several abstract sculptures by the renowned sculptor Marta Pan reinforce the architectural significance and its surrounding exterior spaces. In order to bring the building, in which the latest medical research will be carried out at a globally competitive level, up to the latest technical standards and requirements, two major design projects accompanied an asbestos-abatement program.

The first objective was to redesign the façades on the short ends of the building. The original façade was blank, but its use of white enameled panels gave it a striking presence. In order to respect the original idea, the renovation architects composed a set of glass panels with a predominance of white, more or less opaline, ranging from transparent to opaque. This preserved the solid aspect, but presented it in a much more playful way, by way of a random arrangement of the elements.

Secondly, the tower now has a striking entrance building that leads into an underground podium level, where the restaurant and an enlarged library were added alongside the existing auditoria and seminar rooms. The entrance building develops the motif of the sunken patios, which bring daylight into the seminar rooms in the basement level, by spatially inverting them into a glazed building. The interplay between open and closed patios continues on the front square with more glass cubes, which also serve to light the library from above.

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