This project concerns the construction of a 30 000 m2 block in the Confluence redevelopment area - in the south of Lyons, where its two rivers meet - to group housing, offices and shops. Both the developer and the municipality wanted a blend of architectural designs and programmes, composed by five different architects, each team handling one part of the whole. Given the desired high density, the first objective was to imagine a site plan that would federate the urban and architectural issues in a coherent set endowed with strong visual identity. Once this overall volume was defined, each architect would be free to exercise his or her personal creativity on one of its ‘slices’. Our particular ‘slice’ – the centrepiece - contains offices in a hollowed-out volume designed as a huge cantilever over an interior street. The opening faces a large park central to the site, as if to breathe it in. All the elevations and even the underside are clad in sheets of shiny steel, the uppermost shaped in scrolls that call to mind flowers, a reminder of the park to which they open. The mirror surfaces reflect the surroundings and animate them, conferring a weightless feel on the overhang, which vanishes amidst reflexions and kaleidoscopic patterns, and adding a touch of fantasy to a rigorous architectural set.
The monolith is a real urban ensemble sited on the C island in the new Conflence quarter to the south of the Lyon peninsula between the Saone and the Rhone.
It is part of the LyonIsland project designed to increase the housing quota in this part of the Lyon peninsula whilst at the same time trying to respect the social mix requirements and new environmental legislation. The monolith is part of the High Environmental Quality building scheme for residential, office and commercial premises. Compact, and laid out around a central courtyard with access from three monumental doors, five architectural teams each shared a part of the project.
Unlike other areas, the part assigned to Manuelle Gautrand opens onto the wooded side of the Saone valley and comprises a bridge which lowers on to the central courtyard. The gable of this overhangs the monumental porch and its beams which project a helix floral motif. The facades and soffits of the bridge are in Uginox Bright stainless steel which reflected in the garden. The stainless elements are classic blade shapes which interlock one into the other. Industrially produced they are perfectly flat with easy fixing.
In her book « those I have (already) built Maunuelle Gautrand writes:
The project consists of constructing a 28000m² island in the Confluence area of Lyon, with an arrangement of housing, offices and commercial premises.
We were part of a team of five distinct architects, temporarily coming together to work on this project.
The objective, faced with this powerful sought after volume was to imagine a common master plan, an urban and architectural challenge which brought us all together under one coherent building concept with a strong visual identity.
From this single volume, each architect found their inventive area and developed one of the parts from the common whole. Our part was essentially made up of offices, laid out in a sculpted voluminous format to form a huge antagonism above the internal street which looked out onto the large central park as though to absorb it. The facades are clad in Uginox bright mirror sheets
Most of which are crafted to form large helixes which sketch out the imaginary flowers, a reminder of the park on to which the Monolith opens out. The mirror finish allows the multiple reflections of the countryside opposite, lightening the antagonistic roof which fades into the reflections and creating a kaleidoscope area, somewhat imaginary in the middle of this architectural rigour.
Advantages of Stainless Steel
> a bright finish which reflects the countryside, the garden as well as also expanding the area > industrially produced sections at an optimal price > a stainless steel grade perfectly adapted to the lyonnaise environment > a finish bringing an identity to the whole area and an imposing size.
The Monolith is born of a dialogue between a client ING (Frédérique MONJANEL) and five European architects: MVRDV, Erick Van EGERAAT, Manuelle GAUTRAND, Pierre GAUTIER, ECDM (Emmanuel COMBAREL Dominique MARREC architects). The result is “a 5 hands” architecture, which the value and wealth result from the combination of common rules to a variety of treatments. The Monolith, born of an intelligent and productive agreement, offers its users and inhabitants an inventive urbanity.
Inhabiting Lyon Confluence is, above all, living in the Lyon Centre with its services, its cultural landscape, its animation. Therefore, it’s the duty of our project to preserve the qualities and values of the historic city by redefining a new, contemporaneous lifestyle, guided by 2 strong and converging aspirations: a modern environment and a healthy quality of life, taking into account the requirements for the implementation of sustainable development. Naturally, the purpose is to tend to a more complex city, in a “Tetris attitude” considering combination, to put up scenarios for improbable events, to propose, without mimicry or formal posture, a sedimentation characteristic of the ancient city centers. The approach is programmatic; the building shelters, contains, adds all together: shops, disabled residence, residential hotel, residential housing, social housing, and office. The project is slice of urbanity, social realism, transversal proposal for diversity; a synthetic and ambiguous architecture with a common denominator: same quality of facades for all the included programs, the same envelope without any hierarchy or social expressionism , a picture showing a cautious neutrality towards any functional determinism. Maybe some day, same as the traditional workshops in Lyon, the housing will turn into offices and vice versa.
Our building is an element of sedimentation, embedded in a complex and rigorous urban composition. The purpose is the inclusion of a building in an urban landscape, a work to the service of the lot, in direct intersection with the surrounding buildings. Our project precisely fits into the templates, alignments, frames, the values that govern the whole of the lot. So the plot consists of 2 parallel constructions, which optimize the characteristics and constraints of the site in terms of view, sunlight and animation disturbances.