The Hôpital Suisse in Paris is located on the slopes of Issy-les-Moulineaux. The panoramic view over the Paris plain is one of the site’s major assets. With its raw concrete exoskeleton, the main building is a remarkable testament to Modern architecture from the 1960s and 70s but has been subjected to a series of additions over the past decades. The project to renovate and extend the building accommodating the post-operative rehabilitation, medical and re-education services therefore set out to re-establish the fluidity and unity of the site.
The blueprint designed by Jean Tschumi in 1952, yet never built, communicates a sense of comfort and a spirit of constructive rationality that were a strong inspiration for Atelier Martel. The design for the extension follows the structural logic of the main building by simplifying its façade, thereby displaying the hierarchy between the two buildings with a degree of reverence that tones down the contrasts to highlight a spatial and historic continuity. Like the first building, which was designed by Jacques and Pierre Delaire and inaugurated in 1970, the structure of the extension is composed of a white exoskeleton.
While recreating the formulation, texture and implementation that were used for the concrete at the time proved to be relatively easy, the need to respect contemporary thermal regulations led the architects to reflect on working on the concrete mass. Atelier Martel were keen to demonstrate that it is possible to respect stringent thermal regulations in a responsible building without necessarily sacrificing its quality of expression. By reinforcing the qualities of the existing building, with which it strikes up a subtle dialogue, the project offers new qualities of use, notably via the creation of a covered square and a belvedere garden.
The design strategy rethinks the hospital’s global functionality by releasing potential for long-term development. Circulation flows are clarified and the horizontal extension of the main building’s floors rationalises the housing units. Redeveloping the technical plateau produces possibilities to extend the consultation and medical imagery departments. The belvedere garden on the roof, which houses a restaurant, enjoys breathtaking views over Paris and the surrounding parks. Seemingly suspended in mid-air, its exceptional qualities made it the choice setting for an artistic intervention by Swiss visual artist Catherine Bolle.