JUSSIEU L’ATRIUM

Mieux faire circuler les gens pour mieux faire circuler les idées.

-DAVID TROTTIN

Edouard Albert’s 1960 regular grid plan for the Jussieu Campus is a spectacular example of a Modernist mega-vision – progressive, rational and monumental. Designed to serve 45,000 students and researchers this over-scaled urban insertion in the center of the sixth arrondissement has been criticized by every critic and Parisian for its redundancy, illegibility, windy underbelly, and unbridled use of asbestos.

In 2002, in parallel with the renovation of the Jussieu Campus, Peripheriques Architectes won a competition to extend and complete the grid plan. Their proposal, known as the 16M building or the Jussieu Atrium, is complicit with the scale and logic of the existing system, but playfully distorts functionalist ambitions. Beyond the obvious – a perforated metal façade sweater, a jovial and diagrammatic paint job and the happy-pill-shaped wall openings, the architects do the unthinkable. They “gut” the new construction – as though space is abundant and economical in metropolitan Paris. The result is a frenzy of circulation and a dearth of program.

The project was completed in 2006.