Office building, Paris
PARIS (FR) - Anne Démians designed a landscape building for the Société Générale bank.
She is proud of what she calls her 'collection of architectures', stemming from the creation of her own agency in 2004. This eclecticism, which nods to fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier or Christian Lacroix, can be seen in the collection as a whole, but is also an intrinsic aspect of each project. About the invited competition for Société Générale, which she won last September, she says: 'It is one of the centrepieces of my collection, it is the agency's biggest project, due for delivery in the next four years, so to a very short deadline.'
With some ten completed projects, five more in progress, and another five in development – not counting competitions – her agency now employs nearly 25 staff members. As she tells it, there is something fairytale-like about her career: 'Things have come fairly naturally in the choice of subjects and in terms of proposals in the private sphere, in which we work in equal proportion to the public sphere. For the Société Générale, I didn't tout for the work at all, they came to me. In fact, by participating in working groups on the environmental dimension, I met several major decision-makers, which has resulted in my being called upon for various projects. In 2008, I also participated in the call of the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, for a rethink on high-rise buildings, and my proposal for double tower blocks on Boulevard Masséna was noticed by Société Générale.'
On a 23,000 m2 site near Val-de-Fontenay in the Paris suburbs, the new 'campus' of the Société Générale includes the construction of five buildings (arranged in strips) containing a total surface area of 90,000 m2, nearly 76,000 m2 of which is offices and 13,000 m2 associated services. Anne Démians reconsidered the idea of office floors to give a poetic and rational response to the needs of the 5000 employees on site. Her landscape building responds to the density required and gives the work spaces a level of proximity and exchange through the light, the view of the outside, and the integration of technology to preserve the fluidity of the spaces. Work spaces are lit by large windows, protected from the sun by curved wooden louvres that wrap the structure in a single gesture. These bands stretch to the ground and extend their rhythm to landscaped gardens. The facilities are functional, but, as in all Démians' buildings, they have a fairly luxurious exterior because the general layout is extremely rational. The communal spaces (gym, business centre, restaurants) are arranged along the main, internal street, which takes you from one building to the other. Five double-height concourses give access to the upper floors of each building. The presence of trees and gardens is visible everywhere in a nice contrast with the light-filled white spaces of the interior. The relationship between external and internal spaces is the real strength of this project. It suggests a new way of working, in a peaceful space created by natural light, wood and greenery, in an atmosphere of calmness and concentration.
February | 2012 | France | Sophie Roulet