Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute | University of Versailles - Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
Technical sheet

Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute | University of Versailles - Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines


The Farm of Stars

To study the climate, pollution and the planets, the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute develops astronomical instruments that the passer-by – or pilgrim – sees as they go by. By chance or by celestial design, the research center is located exactly under the Milky Way, somewhere on the Route of Santiago de Compostela, the city of the field of stars (Campus Stellae)!

From manor to laboratory

Combining heritage and cutting-edge technology, the project led by Michel Rémon includes large experimentation halls, offices and laboratories inside the Ferme du Troux listed zone. This property, which has a rich agricultural past, is the meeting point of the residential neighborhood of Les Garennes to the countryside around Guyancourt. Around the open area of the farm courtyard, the outbuildings on the street side have been restored to their initial state. They are now used as garages and storage areas. The master's house, occupied by the IPSL Management, presides over the west courtyard in the shade of majestic trees.

Serenity and serendipity

Outside the courtyard, the new program elements are located on an east-west axis. The "research street", a space designed to encourage encounters and bring people together, carries out its remit so well that its walls have been spontaneously filled with images transmitted by the Institute’s satellites.

Over three levels, the building houses research units around two internal patios. A long horizontal line lightly closes the structure: raised above the ground, the volume of researchers’ offices cultivates the calm unity of the building. Through the north-facing glazed façade, the view is down over the Bièvre River Valley.

"Through the restored grating of the main courtyard, the Institute plays an educational role: it shows satellites through the large sliding doors of the halls and lets awed eyes observe experiments in progress in the instrumentation areas in full sunlight." 


 Note: / Climatologist Jean Jouzel, Vice President of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, directed the Institute from 2000 to 2008. The Institute has been under the leadership of Hervé Le Treut since January 1, 2009.

Fiche Technique

Construction and restructuring / Public Operation

CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research)

Construction cost 
€ 27,5 milion excluding tax

Net Floor Area
11 700 m² Total
1 100 m² Rehabilitation
10 600 m² New Area

2003 – 2009 


Research areas (astronomy, terrestrial and planetary environments), experimentation rooms, offices, technical service centers, rehabilitation of Ferme du Troux (19th century).


Lead Architect

Engineer and Economist
Egis Bâtiments


Pictures: Anne-Claude Barbier