‘le monolithe’ by MVRDV all images courtesy MVRDV




dutch firm MVRDV have completed ‘le monolithe’, an energy efficient mixed-use urban block located in the development area confluence at the southern tip of lyon, france. the structure with a total surface of 32.500 m2 combines social housing, rental property, a residence for disabled people, offices and retail.


in 2004, ING real estate developers had invited a group of international architects to design the masterplan, for which MVRDV was chosen as winner. based on the masterplan, each architect was asked to design a section which together form ‘le monolithe’. the block is characterised by a large interior court with a raised public space overlooking the city, the new marina and a park, in this way resembling the french classical ‘grand gallérie’. the block is divided into five sections, each one designed by a different architect in order to achieve diversity and architectural variety. MVRDV was responsible for the head section in the south at the waterfront. the project forms part of the urban regeneration project ‘lyon confluence’, a 150 hectare site located at the southern tip of lyon’s presqu’île, where the rivers rhône and saône merge.

MVRDV: 'le monolithe', lyon completed the interior space




the interiors of MVRDV’s south facing building are protected from the sun by means of aluminum shutters as a reference to traditional local architecture. apartments inside le monolithe offer a great diversity in order to attract different groups of inhabitants making the block a reflection of lyon’s population. offices are divided into separate units of min. 500 square meters which are accessed  by three vertical circulation cores, providing individual access. each unit allows for a flexible fit out, depending on the tenants’ needs and requirements. all spaces are naturally lit and ventilated.

MVRDV: 'le monolithe', lyon completed the facade




in june 2005, when france and the netherlands voted against the european constitution, MVRDV decided to redesign the facade and integrate a reminder of the values, ideals and needs of the european union. when all shutters are closed, the first article of the european constitution can be read:


‘the union is founded on the values of respect for humandignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. these values are common to the member states in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice,solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.’


it aims to advocate a possible ‘yes’ for europe in days of protectionism, accompanying the collective EU spirit of the gathered architects. the adjacent sections were designed by french and dutch architects pierre gautier, manuelle gautrand, ECDM and erik van egeraat. dutch landscape architects west 8 designed the public space.

MVRDV: 'le monolithe', lyon completed ‘le monolithe’ from a distance




‘le monolithe’ is one of the projects within the greater scheme for lyon confluence which has been developed as part of grand lyon’s european concerto-renaissance programme, a project supported by the european commission. the building not only complies with high environmental quality (HQE) criteria, such as reinforced insulation, careful selection of materials and rainwater management; further, 80% of the total energy consumed is provided by renewable energy sources. the combination of efficient spatial composition, passive energy (sunscreens, high thermal inertia), thermal and acoustic comfort and an energy strategy that includes heat storage, pv-cells, low-e double glazing, compactness to minimise heat loss, natural ventilation and an environmentally responsive facade system make ‘le monolithe’ a highly efficient low energy construction.

MVRDV: 'le monolithe', lyon completed the ‘le monolithe’ block