Ministry of Education
€ 88 million, excluding tax
Net floor area
1987 – 2004
– University Institute of Technology, law – languages – economics departments
– Classrooms, library (1,360 m²), eight amphitheaters (3,000 seats)
– Cafeteria, gym, underground parking (600 places).
Architect in charge
Atelier d’Architecture Michel Rémon
Engineer and Economist
Pictures: Jean-Marie Monthiers
Les Chênes University Center / University of Cergy-PontoiseCergy-Pontoise
The Field of Knowledge
In his statement of intent, Michel Rémon described the site of the university of law, languages and economy at Cergy by creating a unifying “vacuum”: the “field”.
As is often the case, the spatial designer preceded the architect: “Because this university was meant to be a key element of urban character in the new city of Cergy, I first created the empty space around which the building is anchored. Around the campus – etymologically, the “field” – its U shape found its place. Crossed and re-crossed by students, the large central “lawn” now offers a piece of sky to anyone who rests there for a moment stretched out on the grass.”
To the west of the existing university buildings, 25,000 m2 of cement; to the north, west and east, this heart of the campus faces directly south. Circulation on the different levels of the site promotes the flow of community life and ties together the levels by which people arrive on foot or by car.
Set on the site’s slope, the entrance hall rises gently (3.5° over 180 meters), opening onto 10 amphitheaters nested in the ground-floor gradient. The acoustic design of the building models a sensory journey alternating muffled sounds and passages of sound. On the first and second floors, research spaces arranged “like a large, peaceful street” are moored to the library resources and open to the west on the calm landscape of a bend in the River Oise.
On the upper floors, classrooms face professors’ offices, suggesting a more direct and less conventional relationship between students and teachers. The President’s office, which heads the administration area, and the library – a jewel set in the background of the composition as if levitating inside a glass tube – have one thing in common: these two spaces have been superbly furnished by designer Kristian Gavoille in the context of the “artistic 1%” required for public buildings.
“Seen from a distance, the assembly of spaces indicates the functions included in the buildings. The façades are clad in Alicante stone and their pedestals are covered with Carrara marble in “storm cloud” shades.”