PARIS – Designing a generic office building is not an enviable task, especially since the developer’s preference for the largest flexible floor area often trumps architectural expression. However, the latest office building by Architectures Anne Démians – located in Paris’ 17th arrondissement – proves that generic programming does not necessarily lead to a banal outer appearance.
A 130-m-long rectangular volume, the building stands on a disused rail yard which the French National Railway Company has designated for redevelopment. ‘RÉZO is part of the “bureau blancs” typology, essentially open spaces where walls have been eliminated and the building can accommodate any programme,’ explains Anne Démians.
The shimmering metallic façade, where bands of aluminium panels alternate with perforated screens, might echo the streamlined trains that run on the adjacent tracks, but the structure’s silhouette, as well as its open, transparent plinth is decidedly Parisian. ‘The project itself is not discordant with its Haussmann neighbours; it has the same compactness as its neighbours, and matches their typical roofline,’ Démians says.
Furthermore, the perforated aluminium screens ensure a degree of privacy, prevent solar glare and stop excessive heat gains through the 1.8-m-tall windows. Each prospect has its own, optimised amount of perforations, and the east, south and west façades integrate electric blinds ‘The façade design assures that workspaces inside are distinct and bright and the filtered view through the cladding contributes to an atmosphere of calm and concentration,’ the architect points out, adding that the compact volume of the building, combined with its responsive skin, means that the building has passed the stringent environmental regulations with flying colours.