The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) will be leaving London following the implementation of Brexit. The French city of Lille, a European centre of research, innovation, industry, and health, is being considered as a possible new location, to be decided by a competition launched by developer, SPL, in 2017. Arte Charpentier Architects and Eiffage Immobilier Nord constituted one of the eight groups selected to compete.
Situated at the heart of the Euralille complex, between the Grand Palais and the Hôtel de Région, the proposed project forms a new landmark for the city. A confident architectural language, both varied and homogeneous, coupled with the extensive use of vertical planting, create an eye-catching addition to the urban landscape.
The building is shaped by its urban context. Its U-shape plan shelters a south-facing elevated central garden, and its eastern façade is more opaque to provide acoustic insulation from the nearby périphérique ring-road and rail network. The west side on Avenue Président Hoover is the main urban façade of the building where the entrance is located.
The double-skin 8-storey facades around the perimeter of the building form a series of protective layers around its green heart, and act as a filtering envelope against the urban surroundings. The façade treatment suggests a wedding veil allowing glimpses of the interior, and providing shading from the sun, and the prominence of the floor levels is played down so as to heighten the impression of scale. Folds in this continuous envelope create openings framing views of the vegetation in the centre, and provide a series of ‘events’ which enrich the texture of the membrane. The inner garden, raised 2 storeys above street level, is lined with a wooden glazed envelope and lush greenery.
Arte Charpentier Interiors’ prime objective for the design of internal spaces was to provide a feeling of well-being and to encourage interaction and team working. The double-height entrance hall benefits from floor to ceiling glazing blurring the boundaries between inside and outside, creating an open yet enveloping space, with a convivial, outgoing feel. The whole of the interior is visible from the reception, and the different areas are discernable such as the main lobby, cafeteria, restaurant, meeting rooms and the central garden. The naturally-lit office spaces on the upper floors offer distant views of the city and provide optimum working conditions. The garden at the centre of the project is treated like a green oasis and the use of warm and natural materials such as wood reinforce conviviality and encourage well-being, not only among this building’s users but also those of the Hôtel de Région located opposite.
The lightweight structure and abundant vegetation filter the Summer sunshine, but allow a maximum of solar gain in the Winter with the absence of foliage. The use of timber on the facades reinforces the natural feel of the central space and provides a continuity with the installation on the adjacent Champ Libre. The series of accessible terraces at the heart of the site accentuate this effect. Hard landscaping interlocks with the planted areas and rooftops are sown with species attracting fauna and promoting biodiversity.
– Client: Eiffage Immobilier Nord
– Developer: SPL
– User: Agence Européenne du Médicament
– Architect team representative: Arte Charpentier Architectes
– Interior Designer: Arte Charpentier Architectes
– Landscape Architect: Arte Charpentier Architectes
– Architect partner: Fernaut / Escudié Architecture
Technical design consultants
– Building services – fluids: SETEC
– Stuctural: Eiffage Construction
– Façades: Goyer
– Restauration: Systal
– Environment: Le Sommer Environnement
– Car Parking partner: ZenPark
– Title: Euralille
– Postcode: 59 000
– Town: Lille
– Competition: 2017
– Programme: Bureaux de l’Agence Européenne du Médicament et hôtel.
– Floor area: 33 700 m²
Photo credits: DR Arte Charpentier Architectes