Turning a former geriatric home into a hi-tech building
The project to adapt the building to new uses was designed to form part, with other constructions, of the La Salle university campus to which it belongs. This meant taking into account future interventions that will transform the campus and trying to introduce permeability into the existing situation, in which it currently forms a barrier.
The new La Salle building has to house a complex programme of new uses, lecture and seminar rooms, a business centre, hall of residence, offices, etc. The project therefore concentrates on increasing the flexibility of indoor spaces and installations, with rationality as its guiding thread. The existing layout of structural modules prompts the adoption of a system of modulation throughout the building that will help to impose order on the whole in spite of the variety of programmes. The needs of one type of brief call for a high level of compartmentalization, while others need spaces that are as flexible as possible. Accordingly, the project uses a system of lightweight screens to distribute the interior, rehousing the communications shaft in a new annexe to the existing building that becomes the sculptural feature of the intervention, and strategically introducing set inspection points for installations that provide a backbone and remove the need to create inspection traps in low-ceilinged spaces. The building’s interior comprises a system of modules. The use of colour in the opaque elements serves to personalize each floor, encouraging creativity and movement.
The façades respond to the flexibility of the layout. The design of the new north façade adopts a module proportional (1/3) to the existing organization. This new façade module takes the form of a series of rectangular aluminium frames that support glazed, latticed or opaque aluminium panels, as required. This creates a degree of volume in the façade and generates an interplay of shading that helps to construct a dynamic, changing surface texture.