MVRDV completes ‘Le Monolithe’, Lyon – France

‘Le Monolithe’, an energy efficient mixed-use urban block located in the development area Confluence at the southern tip of Lyon’s Presqu’île, has reached completion. The structure with a total surface of 32.500 m2 combines social housing, rental property, a residence for disabled people, offices and retail. The block is composed of five sections, each one designed by a different architect, following the MVRDV masterplan: Pierre Gautier, Manuelle Gautrand, ECDM and Erik van Egeraat. Landscape architects West 8 designed the public plaza. MVRDV designed the head section which advertises over the full façade the European integration by quoting the EU constitution. ‘Le Monolithe’ has been realized by ING Real Estate Development and Atemi.

click image to enlarge - Photo by Philippe Ruault

Le Monolithe:
In 2004, ING Real Estate Developers had invited a group of international architects to design the masterplan, for which MVRDV was chosen as winner. Based on this masterplan, each architect was asked to design a section which together form ‘Le Monolithe’. The urban superblock is a mixed-use development comprising a mix of social and rental housing, offices and underground parking. The block is characterised by a large interior court with a raised public space overlooking the city, the new marina and a park, in this way resembling the French classical ‘Grand Gallérie’. The block is divided into five sections, each one designed by a different architect in order to achieve diversity and architectural variety. MVRDV is responsible for the head section in the south at the waterfront. Each part is unique in material, composition and architectural expression. The project forms part of the urban regeneration project ‘Lyon Confluence’, a 150 hectare site located at the southern tip of Lyon’s Presqu’île, where the rivers Rhône and Saône merge.

South building:
The interiors of MVRDV’s south facing building are protected from the sun by means of aluminium shutters as a reference to traditional local architecture. Apartments inside Le Monolithe offer a great diversity in order to attract different groups of inhabitants making the block a reflection of Lyon’s population. Offices are divided into separate units of min. 500 m² which are accessed by three vertical circulation cores, providing individual access. Each unit allows for a flexible fit out, depending on the tenants’ needs and requirements. All spaces are naturally lit and ventilated.

In June 2005, when France and The Netherlands voted against the European Constitution, MVRDV decided to redesign the façade and integrate a reminder of the values, ideals and needs of the European Union. When all shutters are closed, the first article of the European Constitution can be read: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

It aims to advocate a possible ‘Yes’ for Europe in days of protectionism, accompanying the collective EU spirit of the gathered architects. The adjacent sections were designed by French and Dutch architects Pierre Gautier, Manuelle Gautrand, ECDM and Erik van Egeraat. Dutch landscape architects West 8 designed the public space.

Concept - click image to enlarge

‘Le Monolithe’ is one of the projects within the greater scheme for Lyon Confluence which has been developed as part of Grand Lyon’s European Concerto-Renaissance programme, a project supported by the European Commission. The building not only complies with High Environmental Quality (HQE) criteria, such as reinforced insulation, careful selection of materials and rainwater management; further, 80% of the total energy consumed is provided by renewable energy sources. The combination of efficient spatial composition, passive energy (sunscreens, high thermal inertia), thermal and acoustic comfort and an energy strategy that includes heat storage, PV-cells, low-e double glazing, compactness to minimise heat loss, natural ventilation and an environmentally responsive façade system make ‘Le Monolithe’ a highly efficient low energy construction, e.g. heating accounts for <40 kWh/m²/year and hot water <5 kWh/m²/year.

The ambitious greater urban project Lyon Confluence extends the city centre to the very tip of the peninsula by creating diverse neighbourhoods involving retail and leisure zones, parks, cultural institutions, housing, schools and offices, and local public amenities.

click image to enlarge - Le Monolithe MVRDV, detail of west facade with perforated shutters. (Photo Philippe Ruault)

click image to enlarge - Le Monolithe, overview. (Photo Philippe Ruault)

click image to enlarge - Le Monolithe, interior of the block: Parvis. (Photo Philippe Ruault)

click image to enlarge

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About the architects:
MVRDV was set up in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries. MVRDV engages globally in providing solutions to contemporary architectural and urban issues. A research based and highly collaborative design method engages experts from all fields, clients and stakeholders in the creative process. The results are exemplary and outspoken buildings, urban plans, studies and objects, which enable our cities and landscapes to develop towards a better future.
Early projects such as the headquarters for the Dutch Public Broadcaster VPRO and housing for elderly WoZoCo in Amsterdam lead to international acclaim.

MVRDV develops its work in a conceptual way, the changing condition is visualised and discussed through designs, sometimes literally through the design and construction of a diagram. The office continues to pursue its fascination and methodical research on density using a method of shaping space through complex amounts of data that accompany contemporary building and design processes.

MVRDV first published a cross section of these study results in FARMAX (1998), followed by a.o. MetaCity/Datatown (1999), Costa Iberica (2000), Regionmaker (2002), 5 Minutes City (2003), KM3 (2005), and more recently Spacefighter (2007) and Skycar City (2007). MVRDV deals with global ecological issues in large scale studies such as Pig City as well as in small pragmatic solutions for devastated areas of New Orleans.

Current projects include various housing projects in the Netherlands, Spain, China, France, the United Kingdom, USA, India, Korea and other countries, a bank headquarter in Oslo, Norway, a public library for Spijkenisse , Netherlands, a central market hall for Rotterdam, a culture plaza in Nanjing, China, large scale urban plans include a plan for an eco-city in Logroño, Spain, an urban vision for the doubling in size of Almere, Netherlands and Grand Paris, the vision of a post-Kyoto Greater Paris region.
The work of MVRDV is exhibited and published world wide and receives international awards. The 60 architects, designers and staff members conceive projects in a multi-disciplinary collaborative design process and apply highest technological and sustainable standards.

Together with Delft University of Technology MVRDV runs The Why Factory, an independent think tank and research institute providing argument for architecture and urbanism by envisioning the city of the future.
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