In 2010, loci anima was awarded a project to develop a mixed neighbourhood on a macro-site A4-Est in Boulogne-Billancourt, and to design an office building on the same plot. Seeking to bring architecture and nature together, in the holistic approach that is part of the DNA of its founder Françoise Raynaud, loci anima imagined the idea of a multi-purpose green urban island to be colonised by men, women and children, as well as animals and plants. An inhabited microcosm, perpetually mutating, following the path of the sun, at the complex rhythm of the living. With audacity, she placed the school buildings (project managed by another team) in the centre of the plot, like a landscape opening up the view and drawing all eyes towards it. The gymnasium is concealed under a large green space that the school backs on to, while the playgrounds are on terraced levels, evoking rice fields planted on a mountainside. In order to enrich the biodiversity of the island, the inside walls of the school resemble a fragment of a rocky cliff – subtle faults are revealed between the stone slabs that make up this wall creating habitats for a diverse variety of birds as well as small mammals.
This means that the offices and flats enjoy an unobstructed view of greenery. These buildings themselves are designed as tools of biodiversity – solitary beehives have been erected on the roofs of the buildings in order to encourage pollination, there are large collective gardens dotted among the terraces council flats. In the spaces outside the university residence, there are perches for birds and the office building has a large covered greenspace on each of its terraces. Created from scratch, the macro-plot has gradually been colonised by a very diverse variety of users that change with the weather and that intermingle with each other. We see local residents, school children, office workers, and also hedgehogs, topinambours, bees, small birds of prey and poppies have all appropriated the space that they share. So the macro-plot has started to look a bit like Noah’s Ark while blending subtly in with its environment. Through this project, loci anima pays homage to mountains, rivers, plant and animal life, and also to the sun. In this regard, the large office building project developed by the Vinci group (designed by loci anima) stands outs though the colour of its walls.
They are in subtle, changing tones, ranging from blue to orange-pink that evoke the nuances of the light at dawn and at dusk, that almost imperceptible moment when darkness becomes light and vice versa. Seeking to enrich this “other part”, loci anima chose to give these walls the appearance of containers, freeing up large bays and integrating a system of pods used for maintenance. Providing comfortable, large, naturally lit spaces with a large number of outside greenspaces, the project integrates the idea of well-being in the workplace. There is a glassed in shaft running right up to the seventh floor through which you can see the centre of the green island from the rue Yves Kermen. The shaft contains a service staircase made from wood which is bathed in light during the day. Against all expectations, this has become the nerve centre of the building, a common space where employees of the various companies in the block meet each other as they come and go. The entrance to the building has been designed to encourage this co-habitation. Opening onto two independent halls, it provides the different companies with a reception and entertainment space that is their own. Vinci Construction, which has chosen to locate its headquarters here, has its own reception hall, fitted with the necessary attributes for entertaining (high ceiling, customised furniture). It is testing the new types of office space itself. loci anima has in fact designed an atypical workspace, placing the employee at the centre of the project as a complex and sensitive user. Accordingly, it has not put in individual office cubicles or large open spaces, but has come up with hybrid spaces that evolve in accordance with their usage – a space for concentrating, for relaxing, for large or small gatherings, in meetings or more informally. The spaces adapt and change to suit the users. The offices have built-in IT connections which enable employees to integrate virtually with the hardware. Reserving a meeting room, consulting the meeting room schedule, etc. are all new options that these offices provide, making the work spaces less formatted, more intuitive and more sensitive. A living organism in a way.