Pierres Vives

The Pierres Vives building of the department de l'Herault is characterised by the unification of three institutions - the archive, the library and the sports department - within a single envelope. These various parts of this "cite administrative" combine into a strong figure visible far into the landscape. As one moves closer, the division into three parts becomes apparent. The building has been developed on the basis of a rigorous pursuit of functional and economic logic. However, the resultant figure is reminiscent of a large tree-trunk, laid horizontal. The archive is located at the solid base of the trunk, followed by the slightly more porous library with the sports department and its well-lit offices on top where the trunk bifurcates and becomes much lighter. The branches projecting off the main trunk are articulating the points of access and the entrances into the various institutions. On the western side all the public entrances are located, with the main entrance under an enormous cantilevering canopy; while on the eastern side all the service entrances, i.e. staff entrances and loading bays are located. In this way the tree-trunk analogy is exploited to organise and articulate the complexity of the overall "cite administrative".

The main vehicular access road- both for public visitors as well as for staff and service vehicles, is coming off Rue Marius Petipa, and provides access to either side of the building. The public access leads to the generous visitor car park right in front of the main entrance lobby. The service access is stretched along the opposite side. This longitudinal division of serviced and servicing spaces is maintained within the ground floor along the full length of the building. The front side contains all the public functions of each institution, linked by a linear lobby and an exhibition space in the centre. Above this connective ground level the three institutions remain strictly separated. Each has its own set of cores for internal vertical circulation. The lay-outs of each part follow their specific functional logic. Upon arrival at the main entrance, one is directed from the lobby either to the educational spaces of the archives on ground level; or via lifts and escalators to the main public artery on level 1. This artery is articulated all along the facades as a recessed glass strip and here reading rooms of both archives and library are immediately accessible. Central in this artery and therefore located at the heart of the building, are the main public facilities shared between the three institutions: auditorium and meeting rooms. These shared public functions also form the central volume that projects out from the trunk, providing a grand cantilevering canopy for arriving visitors.

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22 photos and 2 drawings

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