zaha hadid: pierres vives in montpellier zaha hadid: pierres vives in montpellier
aug 04, 2012

zaha hadid: pierres vives in montpellier

‘pierres vives’ by zaha hadid image © hélène binet

the ‘pierres vives’ building of the department of d’lherault has been designed by zaha hadid. the overall structure is characterized by the unification of three key institutions – the archive, the library and the sports department – all housed within a single envelope. from afar, the architecture has a strong presence amidst its surrounding landscape, and as one approaches the site, the physical divisions of the space become more apparent.

reminiscent of a large tree-trunk lying horizontal across the plain, the main volume is intersected by protruding ‘branches’ which articulate the points of access into the various spaces – at the solid base of the trunk one will find the archives, then moving along, the more porous library and finally the sports department and offices situated at the top where the trunk bifurcates and becomes lighter.

the structure is reminiscent of a large tree-trunk lying horizontal image © hélène binet

from the main road, there is entry to either side of the building for public visitors, staff and service vehicles. all public entrances are located on the western side, situated beneath a large cantilevering canopy. public access leads to a visitor park in front of the main entrance, which directs one from the lobby to either educational expanses of the archives on the ground level; or via lifts and escalators to the main public artery situated on the first level. this area is highlighted along the facades by a recessed glass strip where reading rooms for both the archives and the library are immediately accessible. central in this artery at the heart of the building are the main public spaces shared by the three foundations: auditorium and meeting rooms. these shared public zones form the central volume which extends outwards from the main trunk, provide a cantilevering canopy for arriving visitors. service areas (i.e. staff entrances, loading bays) stretch along the eastern side of the unit, articulating the complexity of the design.

the logitudinal division of serviced and servicing points are all maintained within the ground floor and run the length of the structure. the public purpose of each section, links to the lobby and exhibition space in the centre of the property. above this connected ground level, the three institutions remain separate, each one holding its own set of cores for internal vertical circulation with individual layouts which cater to their specific functions.

recessed glass strips run along the length of the building image © hélène binet

image © hélène binet

interior view of the open public spaces image © hélène binet

image © hélène binet

image © hélène binet

image © hélène binet

image © hélène binet

storage spaces image © hélène binet

project info:

architectural design: zaha hadid project architect: stephanie hof project team: joris pauwels, philipp vogt, rafael portillo, jaime serra, renata dantas, melissa fukumoto, jens borstelman, kane yanegawa, loreto flores, edgar payan, lisamarie villegas ambia, karouko ogawa, stella nikolakaki, hon kong chee, caroline andersen, judith reitz, olivier ottevaere, achim gergen, daniel baerlecken, yosuke hayano, martin henn, rafael schmidt, daniel gospodinov, kia larsdotter, jasmina malanovic, ahmad sukkar, ghita skalli, elena perez, andrea b. caste, lisa cholmondeley, douglas chew, larissa henke, steven hatzellis, jesse chima, adriano de gioannis, simon kim, stephane carnuccini, samer chamoun, ram ahronov, ross langdon, ivan valdez, yacira blanco, marta rodriguez, leonardo garcia, sevil yazici, hussam chakouf, marie-perrine placais, monica noguero, naomi fritz, stephanie chaltiel local architect: design phase – blue tango; execution phase – chabanne et partenaires structure: ove arup & partners services: ove arup & partners (concept design) & GEC ingenierie acoustics: rouch acoustique, nicholas albaric cost: GEC LR, ivica knezovic client: departement de l’herault location: montpellier, france status: under construction size: 35,000 m2

  • Awesome! Like from another planet.

    Strulf says:
  • since when a painter designs such sophisticated architectural designs? If Zaha Hadid designed that then I am superman.

    Gogos says:
  • art retro deco nouveau. probably trending.

    nicey says:
  • Attractive elevation, but the dramatically angled walls waste a lot of space inside

    h says:
  • Skaters’ll love it..

    Sk8r says:
  • I cannot truly express exactly how much I hate all of ZH and Co. projects. Can someone please tell them its not 1998 and to stop translating a lame graffiti artists sketchbook into megalithic eyesores.

    Daivro says:
  • Get Over It Daivro…

    Your Mom says:
  • I think Designboom posts articles about Zaha Hadid projects just to get everyone complaining about them, it’s like a Criticism Best Seller. We love to criticize Zaha. (Just for the record, I don’t like Zaha Hadid either)

    mario says:
  • Zaha is one of the ultimate creative minds of the millennium. She has realized what 99.99 percent of architects could only dream of bringing to the built world. says:
  • I need to see this “tree-trunk” from far away – in the landscape !

    finnnnSloth says:
  • Oh, ecomanta, that\’s a red rag to a bull!

    I think it would be fairer to say \’Zaha\’s team of engineers and un-paid interns have realized what 99.99 percent of architects could only dream of bringing to the built world.\’

    Assuming of course, that 99.9 percent of architects dream of designing arbitrary forms, that are driven entirely by the whims of the draftsman/woman. Some do, but not all.

    I doubt that Hadid has to do much of the problem solving – Just the problem creating. You won\’t find a manuel on self-compacting concrete on her desk.
    The \’Ultimate creative mind\’ must surely be capable of variety? Not simply replication.

    I personally find Hadid\’s work extremely repetitive, but you can lay that accusation at virtually every starchitect\’s door. Gehry\’s work morphs into one (very photogenic) continuous mass, while Foster\’s office are slaves to the triangular glazing roofing system, but I would suggest that both those offices have a greater regard for the functionality of their buildings and relationship to the surrounding context.
    Well, a bit more.

    Hadid\’s overbudget aquatics centre for the Olympics is a fine example – One not-so pleasant arbitrary form, drawn in a moment. Then passed to the engineers with the post-it note – \’Make this stand up\’.
    3000 tons of structural steel later…
    For comparison, Hopkins\’ taught Velodrome\’s roof weighs just a third of the Aquatics Centre\’s, using far less energy and resources.

    From a graphic point of view, I don\’t have any trouble with this \’Pierres Vives\’ – Reminds me of 70s automotive styling with its grills, louvres and intakes, or the diagrams of the \’streamflow\’ wind tunnel experiments on Raymond Loewy\’s Studebaker cars. It looks more like product design/styling than architecture.
    But at the end of day, it\’s another incarnation of Hadid\’s one working method:
    1). Draw flowing 2D pattern. 2). Loft/extrude. 3). Call in the engineers. 4). Accept Pritker Prize. 5). Hire a sixth PA clothed entirely in black, 6). Count the money and considering emulating Foster\’s tax status.
    Creative indeed….

    TheCat says:
  • Ahhhh, I knew this reminded me of something.
    It’s Thomas Heatherwick’s Longchamp NY shop interior turned into an entire building!
    Quite like Heatherwick.
    Furniture designer done good.

    TheCat says:
  • I quite like it actually.

    The pictures are of horrible quality though. Architectural photography needs sharp, defined edges, not pixelation and noise.

    Luis says:
  • First of all I blaim the politicians that used the french and european people’s tax money to erect that incredibly expensive project! Remarque: the construction started during the financial crisis.
    Total cost: 125.15 Million €!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Departemental finance: 77.5 Millions of Euros!
    Non departemental:47.65 Millions of Euros!
    Madame Hadid was chosen, but it could be an other project also that expensive. Mainly politicians and local lobbyist (also payed by our tax money) took their influance to be able to take our money chosing the most expensive project…

    Florent says:
  • This is incredible how nowadays countries like France has the money to build projects so “money thrown out in the window”…millions of euros built uselesly just for visual purposes! We live in a really crazy world. It reminds me a BBC film called “The Age of Stupid”

    Some says that Zaha Hadid is so talented and that she’s a genious…do you think that this was her who was designing all this sh*t? If it was the case, she would never sleep and would pass 24 hours a day drawing, calculating, modeling, writing, analysing. It is impossible to do it alone. It’s a whole team of architects, designers draftsmen/women, engineers who does for her. So we have to understand that money talks.And the credits goes to her. She would never be able to design projects alone where environmental issues would drive a solution. She does only mega-projects where there is huge sum of money involved…she’s like Mark Zuckerberg, accidentaly become famous and now she continues to ride the winning horse that was given to her.
    A counterexample: Santiago Calatrava merited to be famous because of his engenious and elegant way of dealing with difficulties in architecture. He is a real example of the Genious!

    Paulus says:
  • What does it means: “cost: GEC LR, ivica knezovic” ?

    Great buildings calls great discussion. From one side, that’s pity this project costs too much. But other side of coin is about great architectural heritage. I think, this two sides must be ballanced.

    timaktaev says:
  • Sublime comme toutes ses oeuvres ! J’aime ces lignes vers le futur ! je suis une fan de Zaha HADID depuis fort longtemps
    depuis que j’ai découvert en 1994, le ” Vitra Design Museum ” à Weil am Rhein en Allemagne, à côté de Bâle .

    Pierrette says:

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