The RATP Bus Centre by Paris-based architectural firm Emmanuel COMBAREL Dominique MARREC Architects (ECDM) appears like a monolith with rounded edges, polished, and partially cut out to expose multi-colored glass skin. Characterized by a dense square plan (35m x 35m) developed on 2 levels, the skin Ductal ® extended from the road surface to the façades, the suspended ceilings and the terrace rooftop without any rupture.
We wanted to work on the inorganic hardness of the site and propose a building that would extend into the surrounding road surface
+ Project description courtesy of ECDM
Located in the southern suburban area of Paris along wide boulevards and roadway interchanges, in an industrial landscape characterised by a succession of boxes (at best basic), the RATP Bus Centre in Thiais controls all the bus lines of the south and east of Paris.
The centre accommodates 300 buses. 800 bus drivers pass through the building every day, including the administrative, the security and the maintenance staffs which manage the Bus Centre. It’s a flux building.
In this fuzzy territory, only one federating element can be pointed out: the 100 % inorganic ground of the site – a mix of asphalt and concrete.
So, we reduced the site to its primary function: a bus park, a vast monolithic slab, uniform mineral territory.
The existing concrete crust that covers the evolution area of the buses is distorted, modeled to cover the administrative center. The building starts with the deformation of the ground and continues it with an apparently similar material, a sheet of ultra high performance concrete, paradoxical and superlative, 3 cm thick displaying a non slippery texture of dots in relief like a game of “LEGO” (24 mm diameter x 7 mm high, distant of 12 mm) contributing to a kinetic morphing which responds to very sophisticated demands : informality of the structure, constant evolution of the plans, density, homogeneity, dematerialization, precision, durability towards emphasized constraints. It ensures a continuity of the ground from the road, to the skin of the facades, the suspended ceilings and the terrace rooftop without any rupture, proposing a merging between the building and its support to a point of confusion. The building has neither a beginning nor an end.
The plasticity of the material combined with its mechanical performance induces an all-over appropriate to a multiplicity of uses and maximized solicitations, possibly opened to a non-control of the limits and the uses.
The building appears like a monolith with rounded edges, polished somehow, required here as a morphing of the context to cover the carcass of a composite program. The result is a dense, inert and deaf building, as enigmatic as the hull of a Russian submarine in the waters of Murmansk.
The concrete hull is cut out with a Stanley knife, surgical incisions revealing cavities of reflective and coloured glass. Treated with silver mirror dots, chromatics of the glass products are inspired by the tinted curtain wall frontages of the office buildings which border the main road.
Aside the administrative building, the program also includes the realization of a new checkpoint of the centre and a bikes shelter.
+ Project credits / data
Project : RATP BUS CENTRE IN THIAIS (France-94)
Program : Administrative building
Location : Thiais (France)
Address : 12-14 rue du Bas-Marin 94 THIAIS
Site area : 3.5 Ha
Gross floor area HON : 35 x 35 m x 2 450 m?
Building scale : 2 stories elevated on a technical basement
Building permit : 2003, December 2
Completion : 2007, June 27
Cost : 3 540 000 € HT
Client : RATP
Client delegate : SEDP
Architects : Emmanuel COMBAREL Dominique MARREC Architects (ECDM)
Engineering : BETOM – SIT
Main contractors :
DUTHEIL – BETSINOR (prefab concrete)
LABASETERE (aluminum windows, metalwork)
Photographers : Benoit FOUGEIROL – Philippe RUAULT