Public places on a shelf. Low-cost flexible university building on the Paris-Saclay University campus

At the 2014 Awards Ceremony for projects in Europe at the Holcim Awards (now LafargeHolcim Awards), this was one of the works that impressed me most. Although, at the time, all you could see were plans and renders, the architectural and urban idea was clear and strong: an elementary frame, coherent, flexible and cheap, designed o shleter, bring together and celebrate public activities. No parametric fireworks or populist collage here, just a no-nonsense and robust construction, whose beauty lies in proprtion and light; a good example of a sustainable concept that does not rely  on gadgets , but on strategy and a capacity to endure and evolve. (Ștefan Ghenciulescu)

Project, text: Muoto
Photo: Maxime Delvaux

About the project. Public condenser

The public facility, situated on the new campus of Paris-Saclay. It hosts a mix of activities including indoor and outdoor sports facilities, a restaurant, cafeteria, and various public spaces: a pedestrian square, street terraces, park areas for deliveries, bikes and cars.


coupe-00The building is organised vertically with its different activities superimposed on one another, using the roof as a panoramic playground for football and basketball games.


The different areas are linked by an open staircase that allows independant accesses.


The building takes the form of an urban shelf, a vertical public space, accessible to all campus visitors, day or night.



It is a shared facility, encouraging the encounter of various populations living close to one another, but rarely meeting. The restaurant, cafeteria and sports activities are made accessible to students, company employees, teachers, and researchers. It aims at creating a meeting point for everyone by mixing activities that are usually separate.


The building has been conceived as a minimal structure, using rough materials, robust and long lasting techniques. Technology is used minimally to provide a place that will last in time, without need for complicated maintenance.



The vertical configuration of the building provides a minimal footprint.



In response to the low construction budget, detailing has been kept to a minimum. This economical approach has allowed for the inclusion of a generous public square in the construction price, ensuring a planted pedestrian connection with the existing academic buildings next to the site.

Program: restaurant, cafeteria, indoor and outdoor sports facilities and various public spaces – a pedestrian square, street terraces, park ares for deliveries, bikes and cars
Client: Etablissement Public Paris Saclay (EPPS)
Total built area: 4097 m˛+ terraces and public space
Budget: 6.500.000 €
Arhitect: Muoto
Consultants: Y-Ingénierie, Bollinger & Grohmann, Alternative, Novorest
Year: 2011 – 2016

The „Public Condenser” Project received the „Holcim Award Silver” at the 2014 edition of Holcim Awards Europe.

About this year’s edition of the LafargeHolcim Awards, here.
Participants can apply till March, 21th, 2017.