The former Lourcine barracks are located in Paris’ 13th district and comprise a parade ground with accompanying military buildings erected in 1875. The project calls for elements of the University of Paris I – library, lecture theatre, classrooms, offices – to be installed within the old buildings and in basement levels under the parade ground.
The project aims to make the most of this Parisian heritage, taking a precision approach that will as far as possible retain the existing spaces and preserve the historic character of the site. ChartierDalix is seeking to adapt the project and its new activities to the buildings without erasing their past. The parade ground retains its central, unifying and symbolic role, as a landscaped forecourt sloping down to frame the new access to the gallery and lecture theatre. Lecture and classrooms are inserted into the existing buildings, making the most of their spatial qualities (ceiling heights, noble materials).
The qualities of the existing site are magnified by the complete freeing up of the spaces: the simple application of flocking on the underside of the arches (acoustics and fire prevention), as well as the complete absence of false ceilings, thus revealing the technical installations, helps to maintain the existing volumes.
A certain “brutalism”, linked to the visibility of all the utility networks, contrasts with the fine details of the made-to-measure furniture and the nobility of the raw materials (steel, solid oak, floorboards).
For the interior design of the reading rooms in the library, we have chosen to position the aisles along the façades to allow the light to freely enter the building and thus free up the view of the succession of windows.
A monumental winding staircase marks the entrance to the library at both the garden level and the ground floor up to the first floor. Its size makes it a remarkable architectural feature and reveals the volume of the building and the height of a whole section.
The eastern end of the connecting gallery of the Lourcine site leads to a section that opens onto the Rue Broca. The reception level thus provides a direct link with the outside and the street at garden level.
In the upper floors, a wide and generous walkway filled with natural light provides the opportunity to create a meeting place over several floors: each floor is thus linked by the main, open staircase that provides direct access to the classrooms without taking the closed staircases.
The garden level gallery, linked to these walkways, transforms them into places to share and exchange in which a number of alcoves have been built for working: building 2 thus becomes a sort of “learning centre” perfectly adapted to new ways of learning and teaching.
The 500-seat amphitheatre, a major feature of the Lourcine campus, is installed at the lowest point of the parade ground where the old car park was and along the north / south axis of the site. It is accessed through a gallery entirely covered with self-weathering steel that provides a continuity with the central esplanade.
The self-weathering steel, a warm, vibrant and changing material, accompanies the visitor throughout all the outside public areas and extends right into the interior. It is a skin that shows the marks of time and embodies the new face of the Lourcine campus.