Cité Descartes is the largest higher education and research hub in eastern Paris. The local institutional mix contributes to a proliferation of cooperations, partnerships and openings to Europe and the world.
The Carnot Building
Designed by Chaix et Morel Building, the Carnot building was completed in 1997, when École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées left rue des Saints-Pères, where it had been based since the mid-18th century. It houses two schools, École des Ponts ParisTech and École nationale supérieure de géographie (higher national school of geography), which is an offshoot of IGN (national geographical information institute). The two schools are separated by the atrium: to the west, geographical sciences, to the east École des Ponts ParisTech. Where the two of the meet, the atrium provides a social space and a window onto the outside world. In the middle of the atrium, a staircase runs down to the reception area leading into the Cauchy and Picard lecture halls and the multipurpose hall. On the upper levels, passageways link the different buildings. The shape of the prisms is identical and inseparable from the structural principle governing the whole.
Each of the three blocks is built with a mixed steel and concrete frame, for better cohesion with the braced structure that supports the vaults. This consists of a system of hangers that span the volume of the buildings and are kept away from these by means of diagonal braces that form banks of roof terraces. The hangers are anchored to the ground at the southern and northern facades or, where they run through the atrium, picked up by internal cables that pre-stress the structure and form parabolic curves. This spidery structure is continuous: each of the parts depends on the others, none can be removed without destabilizing the whole, like a vast motionless swing that provides an equal balance of weather, light and atmosphere for these two linked schools. The roof of each prism is covered with aluminum strips that break up the sunlight and highlight the buildings.
Jean-Charles Blais and Pierre Buraglio contributed a touch of artistry to the building. On the transparent glass of the facade, Jean-Charles Blais devised an engraved double image representing the profile of a human face, which changes its appearance in response to the play and intensity of the light. In the hall, the flooring grading forms a sort of carpet, like a projected reminder of the facade images. Further down, in miniature at the entrance to the Cauchy lecture hall, an engraved glass panel reproduces the faces on the facade. In the lecture hall, Pierre Buraglio has played with the formal and symbolic appearance of the rearview mirror, through a series of painted milky glass compositions called Paysages et marines au rétroviseur surrounded by brushed stainless steel, producing the effect of fragmented landscapes. For the reception hall, above the figures on the ground, the artist created a colored astral version of the sun and moon, devising a set of 10 enameled metal discs, each 70 cm in diameter.
Picture : © David Delaporte
The Coriolis Building
At Cité Descartes, École des Ponts ParisTech is developing an innovative center for research on energy management in construction and sustainable urban development. Owned by the School, Coriolis is a world-class HEQ building that combines energy, quality, comfort, and health. It has been occupied since summer 2013 and is home to 3 laboratories: CEREA, LIGM (IMAGINE), and CERMICS. On the teaching side, specific premises are d assigned to d.School Paris at École des Ponts, winner of a call for projects under the IDEFI “Excellence in innovative education initiatives” process.
The Bienvenüe Building
The Bienvenüe Building houses the headquarters of IFSSTAR (French Institute of transportation, planning and infrastructure sciences and technologies).