Le Monolithe by MVRDV, ECDM, Manuelle Gautrand Architectes, Pierre Gautier Architectes, Erik van Egeraat Architects

The energy efficient mixed-use urban block located in Lyon, precisely in the development area Les Confluences (sourthern of Lyon's Presqu'île), is just completed. Spurred on by MVRDV's masterplan, this 27,850 square meter superblock is divided into five sections designed by five firms of architecture: Pierre Gautier, Manuelle Gautrand, ECMD (Emmanuel Combarel, Dominique Marrec Architects), Erik van Egeraat, and MVRDV
Le Monolithe, MVRDV, ECDM, Manuelle Gautrand, Pierre Gautier, Erik van Egeraat, Lyon, 2010, © EEAECDMMGAPGAMVRDV
Each section of Le Monolithe designed by each architect, MVRDV, Manuelle Gautrand, Pierre Gautier, Erik van Egeraat, Lyon, 2010, © EEAECDMMGAPGAMVRDV

The collective space consists of a large interior court with a raised public plaza shared by the users. This large circulation which crosses the block in its longitudinal axis is designed by West 8.
The large interior court with the public plaza designed by West 8. Photography © ECDM

In 2004, ING Real Estate Developers and Atemi Developers selected MVRDV among a group of international architects to design the masterplan of the Monolithe. Spurred on by the masterplan designed by MVRDV, the five architect agencies, MVRDV included, ECDM (France), Pierre Gautier Architectes (France), Manuelle Gautrand (France) and London-based Erik van Egeraat (The Netherland) were invited to design each a section which together form 'Le Monolithe'. The main idea is to start with the French and Dutch "no" to EU constitution. The architects' goal is to provide an urban development as a response to the importance of the European constitution. Beside this starting point, the question is simple: "what can we do?". This Monolithe addresses this question by offering an inventive, creative and sustained urbanity for the users.

Meeting the High Environmental Quality (HQE, in French for "Haute Qualité Environmentale"), energy efficient is the other core key of this programmatic project. It includes efficient insulation, passive solar design, and the use of renewable energy resources. Heating accounts for less than 40 kWh/m^2/year. As for hot water, it is less than 5kWh/m^2/year.

As the masterplan indicates, this urban block is a 27,850 square-meter mixed-use development consisting of a mix of social and rental housing (12,550 square meters), 14,000 square-meter offices, 1000 square-meter shops, and underground parking, with a large interior court for the users. This sustained urban block provides maximum levels of natural light and ventilation.

Articulation of the programs of Le Monolithe superblock, Courtesy © ECDM

MVRDV is in charge of the head section in the south at the waterfront. The interiors are protected from the sun by means of aluminium shutters. The choice of the aluminium shutters is a reference to traditional local architecture.

Le Monolithe, MVRDV, Manuelle Gautrand, ECDM, Pierre Gautier, Erik van Egeraat, Lyon, 2010, Photography courtesy © ECDM

Parisian architect agency ECDM's section is located in the rue Denusière. This section is as simple and functional as the other sections: same quality of façade for all the programs; the envelope is treated without any hierarchy. The building is rational and economic; it aims at offering the best quality of life for the future inhabitants.

Section of the ECDM's section, Courtesy, © ECDM
ECDM's section, © ECDM
ECDM's section, © ECDM
Façade of ECDM's section, ECDM, Lyon — Les Confluences, 2010, © ECDM
Plan of the 7th Floor, ECDM's section, Lyon — Les Confluences, 2010, © ECDM

London-Based Erik van Egeraat who completed his section in November 2010, designed the north-est entrance.
Erik van Egeraat's section, North-East entrance, Photography © Philippe Ruault. Originally appeared on Dezeen.

Each section is unique in terms of material, composition and architectural expression. As Erik van Egeraat says, "(…) Initially each architect selected a specific material for the façade". Hence each section has its own architectural treatment which offers a "very attractive image for the Monolith", van Egeraat adds. The façade of Erik van Egeraat's section is designed in wood and glass, assembled in a rich and elegant irregular pattern.

Le Monolithe — Erik van Egeraat's section, Lyon — Les Confluences, 2010, Photography courtesy © Philippe Ruault, originally appeared on Dezeen

Le Monolithe — Pierre Gautier Architectes' section, Courtesy © Pierre Gautier Architectes
Plans of Pierre Gautier Architectes' section, Courtesy © Pierre Gautier Architectes

Le Monolithe — Pierre Gautier Architectes' section, Lyon — Les Confluences, 2010, © Pierre Gautier Architects
Pierre Gautier Architectes' section, © Pierre Gautier Architectes

The organisation and circulation are simple. A double North-South and West-East orientation and a transversality articulates apartments which house the West-East façade and offices which occupy the North-South façades. Transversality is underlined with the use of natural light and ventilation. As French architect Pierre Gautier argues, the main idea is to offer a variation of typologies that correspond to the inhabitants' requirements.
Le Monolithe — Manuelle Gautrand's section, Lyon — Les Confluences, 2010. Photographed by © Philippe Ruault
All rooms benefit from day lighting and natural ventilation. Apartments offer a great diversity in order to attract different group of inhabitants. Offices are divided into separate units of minimum 500 square meters. The are accessed by three vertical circulation cores.

Technical information:
Architects: MVRDV, ECDM (Emmanuel Combarel, Dominique Marrec), Manuelle Gautrand, Pierre Gautier, Erik van Egeraat
Project team: MVRDV, ECDM, Manuelle Gautrand, Pierre Gautier, Erik van Egeraat
Landscape: West 8
Developers: ING Real Instate, Atemi Developers
Location: Lyon Confluence,
Programs: Housing, Offices, Shops
Total Floor Area: 28 000 square meters
Competition: 2004
Completed year: 2010
Some Photograph, courtesy © Philippe Ruault.
Some photographs originally appeared on Dezeen.

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