The three buildings of the university complex were constructed at different times, the first one was completed in 1954, therefore a restoration was necessary anyhow. The main requirement was to unify this collection of buildings intended to accommodate the Faculty of Management, Economics & Science, which is a centre for both teaching and research. The project also aimed to be consistent with the concept of the current “Third Industrial Revolution” (REV3) in France by creating a zero-carbon university building. A Lille-based initiative, LIVE TREE (Lille Vauban en Transition Energétique Ecologique et Economique [Lille Vauban Programme for Energy, Ecological and Economic Transition]) set some ambitious objectives for the project: to produce and consume its own energy also sharing and providing it to others.
A combination of history, innovation and modernity
For Thomas Druon, an architect at the Lille based architectural firm MAES, the façades of clay panels “anchore the building in history and the local region, whilst promoting the values of innovation and modernity”. Together with the French architectural review board, he developed a clay panel in warm shades of beige and ochre, to blend in with the colours of the neighbourhood. “Clay panels catch the light, but not in a showy way”. The architect selected six shades, including a white glaze, and four sizes of shingle to create the modules of the façade.
Delivering on aesthetics and performance
Thomas Druon used these materials to design 80 modules, which are repeated across the façade, which covers the corners of the building and the two adjoining walls. The goal: to create an impression of ‘ordered randomness’ by combining the modules to unify the façade whilst creating visual variety. The glazed white shingles sparkle amongst the other shades. The very tight framework and the interplay of the shingles, in vertical lines, is a visual reference to the genome, and to the rhizome root system after which the RIZOMM is named.
Project nameRIZOMM, Lille, France
ArchitectMAES Architectes Urbanistes
Argeton Barro clay tile cladding
Year of completion2018