dominique perrault inaugurates new mechanics hall in switzerland for the EPFL
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

 

 

 

french firm dominique perrault architecture (DPA) has completed a new mechanics hall (ME) for EPFL — ecole polytechnique fédérale de lausanne — the renowned research institute and university in western switzerland. the previous structure was constructed by the zweifel + stricker + associates team in the early 70s, during the campus’ first phase of development. however, the site’s original masterplan has since been revised on a number of occasions, and in 2011, DPA won a competition to rebuild the hall.

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the new mechanics hall is situated on EPFL’s campus in lausanne 
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

 

 

 

the new building covers a surface area of more than 19,000 square meters, spread across one basement level and five storeys above ground. the structure houses the administrative offices of the department of engineering, as well as some office space for the department of biology. conceived as ‘a large-scale experimental playground’, the scheme consists of two wings connected by a large central atrium. with their own technical and circulation networks, the wings serve as two separate buildings — both respecting the site’s original layout, while playing with subdivisions and double heights.

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façade modules are divided into three vertical panels, two of which can slide laterally
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

 

 

 

a monochrome color palette is established, with raw concrete and metal walls, cement, and PVC flooring, while exposed services reference the building’s scientific purpose. individual offices occupy a peripheral strip along the external façade, organized around a centrally positioned atrium that serves as the scheme’s ‘beating heart’. here, stairways and corridors flow diagonally from one level to the next, and from one side to another.

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the dynamic façade uses a metallic mesh that evokes an appropriate sense of mechanics
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

 

 

 

the façade — which uses GKD metal fabrics — comprises a mesh that evokes an appropriate sense of mechanics and engineering at work. its modules were pre-built in a factory before assembly, and are made up of two layers: an inner skin offering thermal insulation and soundproofing, and an outer envelope ensuring solar protection. the modules are divided into three vertical panels, two of which can slide laterally — allowing them to be deployed in front of the glass panes. to optimize thermal comfort, the mobile units are generally operated via the building’s automation system, but can also be maneuvered manually.

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a centrally positioned atrium serves as the scheme’s ‘beating heart’
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

dominique-perrault-new-mechanics-hall-EPFL-ecole-polytechnique-federale-de-lausanne-switzerland-designboom-02
stairways and corridors flow diagonally from one level to the next
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

dominique-perrault-new-mechanics-hall-EPFL-ecole-polytechnique-federale-de-lausanne-switzerland-designboom-02
a monochrome color palette is established throughout
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

dominique-perrault-new-mechanics-hall-EPFL-ecole-polytechnique-federale-de-lausanne-switzerland-designboom-02
the building covers a surface area of more than 19,000 square meters
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

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the structure primarily houses the administrative offices of the department of engineering
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

dominique-perrault-new-mechanics-hall-EPFL-ecole-polytechnique-federale-de-lausanne-switzerland-designboom-02
the building comprises two independent wings connected by a large central atrium
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

dominique-perrault-new-mechanics-hall-EPFL-ecole-polytechnique-federale-de-lausanne-switzerland-designboom-02
the scheme preserves the existing axes that traverse the campus
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

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at night, the building is gently illuminated from within
image © vincent fillon / dominique perrault architecture / adagp

 

 

project info:

 

client: swiss confederation represented by the council of polytechnic schools
delegation for the operations: EPFL – ecole polytechnique fédérale de lausanne
location: campus EPFL, lausanne, switzerland
architect: dominique perrault architecte, design-build project with steiner SA
artistic direction and design: gaëlle lauriot-prévost
local architect: architram
consultants: preface sarl (façades), betica SA (mechanical electrical), daniel willi SA (structure), dsilence SA (acoustics), duchein SA (sanitary system)
site area: 15,500 sqm / 166,840 sqf
built area: 20,800 sqm / 223,889 sqf
construction dates: summer 2012 – may 2016