Paris courthouse

Paris courthouse

Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Paris, France | View Map
Project Year
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Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Sergio Grazia
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
Bamboo flooringMOSO Bamboo Products
Supplier acousticsSonogamma
ManufacturersGuardian Glass

Product Spec Sheet
Bamboo flooring
Supplier acoustics

Paris Courthouse

Renzo Piano Building Workshop as Architects

Since the Middle Ages, Parisian justice has been dispensed from the famous building that surrounds the Sainte-Chapelle on the Île de la Cité. However, over the years, an increasing shortage of space has resulted in many of its offices having to be transferred to a multitude of locations across the city. The new Paris law courts, built beside the Porte de Clichy, will enable the judicial institution’s courtrooms and offices to be reunited in the same building. The historic seat on the Île de la Cité will continue to house important and symbolic activities such as the Court of Assize (Criminal Court), the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

When the competition was first launched, the French government suggested dividing the law courts into two separate buildings: the first to accommodate public functions, such as courtrooms, and the second, offices. The key idea behind Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s project was to reunite all these spaces in one large building: capable, through its size and status, of becoming a starting point for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of the neighborhood around the Porte de Clichy.

The building rises out of an L-shaped site, between the city ring road and the Martin Luther King park. The building’s axis is aligned with the north-south diagonal of the adjacent park, which anchors the Clichy–Batignolles urban development zone. As a result, the building’s southern façade faces Paris, while the north looks toward Clichy. The park’s diagonal line is strengthened by a “visual corridor” that continues northward up toward Clichy, running between the Courthouse’s east façade and the Maison des Avocats (headquarters of the Paris Bar Association).

The new law courts, standing 160 meters high, have an internal area of around 110,000 square-meters and will accommodate up to 8,800 people per day. The building is made up of a Pedestal, five to eight stories high, which integrates the lower part of the Tower. The Tower, which is set on top of the Pedestal, is made up of three superimposed parallelepipeds, which levitate, one above the other. The blocks are set back, as the tower rises, creating a distinctive step-like profile, distinguishing the law courts from the more conventional towers along Paris’s skyline. The building’s façades are fully glazed. On all three blocks of the tower, the east and west façades extend beyond the building, creating fine glass “frames” that increase the sense of lightness. The office façades to the east and west look toward Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower; the north and south façades, which are narrower, offer views of central Paris or Clichy and Mont-Valérien.

The building is entered from the ground-level forecourt into the Public Lobby, where the flux of visitors and employees can be greeted and directed.

The Courthouse entrance is identifiable by its canopy and, above it, a vertical “fissure” and pole, from which hangs the French flag. The Public Lobby is represented by a “Great Atrium,” set symbolically right at the heart of the Pedestal. The rectangular atrium is the full height of the Pedestal, up to 28 meters, and is notable for its slender steel columns and the amount of natural light that enters through its skylights – “the Marilyns” – and through the glazed façade that looks over the forecourt, allowing natural light to penetrate to the heart of the building. In addition to the Great Atrium, the lobby includes two smaller atriums, to the south and north, also the same height as the Pedestal. The three spaces are linked by a 160-meter-long corridor, that crosses the ground floor of the Pedestal longitudinally from north to south. The Public Lobby, majestic and solemn, is characterized by a light and bright atmosphere, enhanced by white finishing touches. Panels of wood define the space, bringing softness and sobriety and making it into a welcoming area for users. From the lobby, it is possible to access all public posts and services (notably, a meeting room, public cafeteria and all public information services), as well as the 90 courtrooms. Fitted with parquet and steamed-beech-wood paneling, almost all the rooms benefit from daylight that filters through the façades. Behind the courtrooms, the council chamber and the deliberation rooms, also fitted out in wood, are visible from the outside through the glazed façade.

The eighth floor is home to a 7,000 square-meter planted terrace, as well as the staff restaurant, which opens onto the large garden both literally and visually, through its glazed windows. This is a dedicated space for walking, reflecting and informal interaction between Courthouse staff members. It makes up a truly green space, a “Courthouse Park.” On the 19th and 29th floors, the Tower’s floating blocks create space for two further raised gardens, allowing the Martin Luther King park to “extend” into the building and creating a genuinely plant-covered skyscraper. Two vertical “spines” on the east- and west-facing façades link the three floating Tower blocks. On the east side, the spine is made up of both a succession of photovoltaic panels that line a fissure, which contains an external elevator with panoramic views. The west-facing spine is also made up of photovoltaic panels, but includes balconies with panoramic views, created as pleasant outdoor spaces. Areas for semi-outdoor relaxation include the double-height winter gardens on the eastern façade, set on the top floors of the lower and middle Tower blocks, under the “wasp-waists.” In addition, the Tower includes communal areas, a staff cafeteria, a library, meeting rooms, as well as around 1,000 offices.

Vertical and horizontal photovoltaic panels line the east- and west-facing façades, creating a vibrancy accentuated by the light that reflects off them. They also demonstrate a desire to move toward using alternative energy in public buildings. The energy performance of the entire building is of the highest quality and respects the goals of the Paris Climate Plan and 2012 thermic regulations requirements. HQE certification (the French High Quality Environmental standard) is also in process.

To conclude, the building’s structure, robust and orthogonal, ensures a flexibility that, over the long term, will be able to accommodate future requirements, including any changes in the way the justice system operates.


The Palais de Justice in Paris

iGuzzini as Manufacturers

Since the Middle Ages, Parisian justice has identified itself with the building surrounding the Sainte-Chapelle on the Île de la Cité. Over the centuries, the building’s capacity became insufficient and many offices had to be moved to different locations throughout the city. In 2010, a competition was launched for the design of “The New Paris Law Courts”, near the Porte de Clichy. This new complex would house courtrooms and judicial offices under the same roof. The historic site in Île de la Cité continues to host the Court of Assizes, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.

The competition for the new Palais de Justice was won by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, who put forward a different solution to the one requested by the French government, which specified the need for two separate buildings: one for public purposes, such as courtrooms, and the other for offices. The key idea in Renzo Piano’s design was to combine these spaces into one large building, capable of becoming a starting point for the regeneration of the Porte de Clichy area, through its size and status. In fact, the building is located in the new district of Clichy-Bartignolles, between Montemartre and La Defense, being based on an ecological approach, part of the Grand Paris project.

Work on the new Palais de Justice in Paris started in May 2015. The building occupies an L-shaped area between the city’s ring road and the Martin Luther King Park. Its statistics are impressive: 160 metres tall, an internal surface of approximately 110,000 m2, and the ability to accommodate up to 8,800 people a day. Its base is a pedestal with a predominantly horizontal development holding three non-aligned parallelepipeds stacked on top of each other, which create a stepped profile. The building’s entrance is through the square and leads to the public lobby where the flow of visitors is welcomed and directed to where they need to go. The atrium, which is 28 metres high, is flooded with natural light entering through the fully glazed façades and skylights. During the night, the atrium is illuminated with diffused lighting emitted by pendant luminaires  specifically designed for this project. The luminaires have been developed to provide a considerable amount of light that populates this vast space during the night. They feature two die-cast aluminium optical compartments with a plastic screen that diffuses light both up and down to minimise glare. Three rigid rods hold the compartments together and pass through a disk made of plastic material that emanates light thanks to a laser which helps spread the light emitted by the Underscore Ledstrip homogeneously across the entire surface. The spectacular design of these distinctive luminaires stands out during both the day and night. 

The sensation of an environment filled with light is further reinforced by the choice of interior furnishings, which are all made of light wood in neutral colour tones. The lobby provides access to all public spaces, including a meeting room, a café, public information services, as well as to the 90 courtrooms. Fitted with parquet flooring and evaporated beech wood panels, nearly all the courtrooms benefit from daylight which filters through the façades. At night, they are illuminated with the same kind of pervasive light, very diffuse and homogeneous given by the combination of Front Light projectors and Reflex recessed luminaires.

An in-depth study was carried out for the design of the outdoor spaces, which are located at different heights. On the eighth floor there is a 7,000 m2 garden terrace, as well as the staff restaurant. It is a space designed for walking, reflecting and informal meetings between those who work at the Palace. A real hanging garden joins those on the 19th and 29th floors, harmoniously intertwining the built and natural environments. At night, the building’s exterior spaces are illuminated by Maxiwoody projectors and iWay bollards responsible for ensuring safe walkways.
The building’s overall energy performance levels comply with the targets indicated in the Paris Climate Plan, as well as with the requirements stipulated in the 2012 thermal standards. The HQE certification (the French high quality environmental standard) is also underway. Energy is produced by both horizontal and vertical photovoltaic panels, which cover the east and west façades. Besides demonstrating the desire to use renewable energy in public buildings, these panels also give the building character through their specific luminous vibration.

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