Manuelle Gautrand's Business Estate in Saint-Etienne France

An "Aztec snake" or 3D letter, however you see it, it is surprising

by Malcolm Clark
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The "cité des affaires" in Saint-Etienne, designed by Paris architects Manuelle Gautrand is a fine example of how a public authority can still promote original and courageous architecture.

The plot involved in this project is located near the station ofSaint-Etienne, in the Massif Central area ofFrance, in an area undergoing rapid transformation and demographic growth. In order to fit into this context the idea of Manuelle Gautrand was that of creating a continuous volume, a sinuous shape which is both rooted to the ground and takes off to create a great discontinuous passage with the closed form of the other blocks.

The continuity of this volume also guarantees excellent flexibility: at any moment the functions housed in the building may be reorganised to increase or reduce their area according to their differing requirements.

The "Aztec snake" winds its way over several floors, creating perspective overlays and charming views for the visitors who walk through its geometrical volutes. Three sides of the building are covered with grey-turquoise windows while the fourth is painted a brilliant yellow colour: creating an interior light, an urban signal which makes the folds easily visible and highlights its exceptional quality.

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    La cité des affaires 52

    La cité des affaires

    Saint-Étienne / France / 2010