Project: The Orange Cube
Architects: Jakob + Macfarlane Architects
Location: Quai Rambaud, Lyon, France
Client: Rhône Saône Développement
Cost consultant: Michel Forgue
Electrical Engineering: Alto Ingénierie http://www.alto-ingenierie.fr
Acoustic: Avel Acoustique http://www.avel-acoustique.com
Structure: RFR GO+
Project area: 6,300 square meters
Project year: 2005–2011
Photographers: Nicolas Borel
It is very common nowadays that urban planning projects of a former harbor zone are being completed. We’ve seen such examples in the past on Yatzer with Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and Shanghai International Cruise Terminal. The plan was to bring together architecture and a cultural/commercial program through a reinvestment project in the docks of Lyon*FR on the river side by taking full advantage of the industrial inheritance.
The docks primary consisted of warehouses, cranes and functional elements; the development however, by VNF (Voies Naviguables de France) in partnership with Caisse des Dépôts and Sem Lyon, transformed the area to a region of experimentation. This experimentation led to the creation of a new landscape that is articulated towards the river and the surrounding hills. Orange Cube was designed with one concept in mind to highlight its autonomy amongst the new landscape.
Orange Cube of Jakob + Macfarlane Architects is designed as a simple orthogonal ‘cube’ into which a giant piece is extracted, to respond to the necessities of light, ventilation and the views. The void created, pierces the building horizontally and upwards to the roof terrace. The lightweight façade with apparently random openings is finished off by another façade, pierced with pixilated patterns that are adjunct to the movement of the river. To create the void, the architects worked with a series of volumetric perturbations, mathematical methods that give approximate solutions to problems that cannot be solved exactly. Associated with the subtraction of three ‘conic’ volumes inclined on three levels; the angle of the façade, the roof and the level of the entry. These perturbations generate spaces and form a relation between the building and its users in terms of the site and the natural lighting inside an office program.
The first volumetric perturbation is based on the direct visual relation with the arched structure of the hall, its proximity and the structure built against a counterfort to reinforce the wall. This allows to connect the two architectural elements and to create new space on a double height, protected inside the building. The elliptic one, fractures the structural regularity of the pole-girder composition on four levels on the façade facing the river.
The punctured façade institutes a diagonal relation towards the angle and produces a vast atrium in volume depth, bounded by a series of corridors connected to the office platforms. That is why the façades design is reallocated facing inwards, thus developing a new relation of light and view in the interior and exterior of the building. Thus it creates a dynamic relation of altering geometry according to the perspective that one is viewing from. Stage platforms generated from the architectural design benefit from light and view at different levels with balconies. The balconies create informal meeting points; whereas a large terrace can admire panoramic views on Lyon, la Fourvière and Lyon-Confluence. The architectural design follows the principles of sustainable development and respects principals regarding thermal performance, daylight factor, and ventilation.
Moreover, Jakob + Macfarlane Architects have selected to paint the exterior of the building in orange in reference to lead based paint, an industrial color often used for harbor zones due to its resistance in moisture that prevents from corrosion. Orange Cube by Jakob + Macfarlane Architects is a very interesting attempt in the docks of Lyon; the shape, the color and the skin, as well as the interior and exterior connections are all carefully thought out. An appealing approach where the shapes and color of a building attempt to revitalize a ‘decaying’ industrial district.