The new educational facility at the EPFL campus in Lausanne, Switzerland, features two separate wings connected by a large atrium, all wrapped in mechanical metal screens. The clever design was created by Dominique Perrault Architecture / Steiner SA team, who won the 2011 international competition to rebuild a mechanical hall, which will accommodate the administrative offices of the Department of Engineering.
The central atrium is dominated by stairways and flared corridors connecting different levels and creating a dynamic interplay of lines and volumes. This area has a distinct graphic quality inspired by Piranesi’s Capricci architectural fantasies.
The metallic mesh facade references mechanical engineering and wraps around prebuilt modules, the shape and dimensions of which were determined by the school’s historic master plan. Two layers make up each module. An inner skin provides thermal insulation and soundproofing, while the outer layer offers solar protection.
The same metallic mesh used by DPA for the Bibliothèque Nationale de France were used to create panels tilted away from the facade with slight variations. The positioning of the panels is automated, denoting the building’s purpose. Different sides of the building feature differently articulated facade systems. The north facade features wide horizontal glazing mounted above an apron of horizontal sheet metal.
Photos by Vincent Fillon