jakob + macfarlane: orange cube
original content
feb 08, 2011
jakob + macfarlane: orange cube

‘orange cube’ by jakob + macfarlane architects in quai rambaud, lyon, france
image © roland halbe / all images courtesy jakob + macfarlane




paris-based jakob + macfarlane architects (dominique jakob, brendan macfarlane) has sent us images of ‘orange cube’, their soon-to-be-complete commercial and cultural complex in lyon, france. designed as a part of an urban planning project to replenish the docks of lyon, the five-storey orthogonal cube plays off the fluid movement of the river saône, exploring the effects of subtraction and voids on the quality and generation of space.

image courtesy RBC




built on a regular framework of 29 x 33 m, the structure stands autonomously on the site, a wharf with a predominantly industrial background. the most noticeable element of the design – its bright orange shade – is an abstraction of lead paint, an industrial color often used for harbor zones. the external skin is a light facade, punctured with a pixilated pattern that resembles trailing droplets, a reference to the adjacent river’s flow. this porous envelope allows sightlines and natural daylighting while establishing a distinct identity for the building. 

in context of the river and surrounding structures
image © roland halbe




the structural regularity of the cube is broken on the north-west corner which faces the river. conic in form, the large, diagonally-running void generates new space: a large atrium is created which is circumscribed by a series of outdoor corridors that connect the office platforms together.the facade is pulled into the depth of the volume, resulting in a shift in interior/exterior relations, as well as facilitating light and views. another volumetric subtraction on the entry and roof levelestablish direct relations between the building, its users, and the site.

view of the void from an outdoor terrace space
image © roland halbe

roof top terrace
image © roland halbe

interior view of the design showroom
image © nicolas borel




featuring a double-height layout, the ground floor accommodates a design showroom. the display concept, which was also created by jacob + macfarlane architects, was developed as an extrapolation of the ‘orange cube’s architectural language. taking the treatment of the facade, a three-dimensional volume was generated for an L-shaped wall that wraps around the space. sixty ‘alvéoles’ are used to display furniture pieces, while the unit as a whole define the circulation of the floor.

display wall
image © nicolas borel

image © nicolas borel

image courtesy RBC

office floor
image © nicolas borel

images © nicolas borel

detail of light facade
image © nicolas borel

3D rendering of display wall units

floor plan / level 0

floor plan / level +4




project info:


client: rhône saône développement
surface: 6,300 m2
commercial program: headquarters cardinal group
cultural program: design showroom, RBC
cost consultant: michel forgue
electrical engineering: alto ingénierie
acoustic: avel acoustique
structure: RFR GO+
facade: T.E.S.S.

comments policy
login with designboom
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

jakob macfarlane (10 articles)

product library