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University of Arts and Human Sciences

Grenoble, France
1 of 22Philippe Ruault

Constructed in 1995, this building on the university campus of Grenoble for the University of Arts and Human Sciences was the first to be realised by the architecture duo Anne Lacaton et Jean-Philippe Vassal.

Design Concept

The project is positionned in an alignment of new buildings that densify the eastern axis of the university. Set 13 meters apart, the two buildings are linked by three aerial footbridges and by the continuity of the conservatories on the main south and north facades, thereby giving the apprearance of a single volume.

The building, intended for teaching activities, is transparent and opens onto the campus and the chain of high mountains that encircles Grenoble. The main facades, consisting of small transparent conservatories, creates a plant filter: bougainvilleas to the south, bamboo to the north. The conservatories are conceived according to the same principles as those of professional horticulturists and are administered by the same automatic system: ventilation, watering, heating. They make for a surprising, changing and poetic image, in keeping with the artistic dimension of the university's teaching activities. The exoticism of the plant varieties invites one to look beyond the mountains.

Research into cost-effectiveness has been a constant preoccupation during the conceiving of the project, in order to attain, within the same budget, the objectives of a larger building, warranted by the ascertaining of needs and the frequentation of university buildings.

With no restriction as to the quality of the facilities, materials and products used, it has enabled us to create additional lecture rooms, a larger assembly hall, corridors that become genuine meeting places, a much bigger library occupying the whole of one floor. The sobriety, efficacy and rigor of the building are set alongside an unexpected event in the project, which creates its image and its poetry: the conservatory with their flowers.

Ingérop Rhône Alpes (systems, electricity, heating)
Ingérop Sud Ouest (concrete structure, construction cost)