The new extension of the Perrache-Confluence electrical substation in Lyon, France, was dsigned as an architectural disappearing act. Lyon-based Rue Royale Architectes wrapped the building in a metallic skin made of gabions filled with blue limestone and plants. The structure, which reaches up to nine meters in height and is topped with a green roof planted with sedum, is surrounded with a bamboo "forest" visible from the neighboring buildings.
The substation building itself is not accessible to the public and is fully opaque due to its function as a technical building. It is meant to store pieces of equipment which require certain dimensions, technical accessibility, safety standards and access areas. In order to make it more appealing and introduce an element of nature, the architects created a second facade with plants protruding through the mesh. Stone, metal and plants create various contrasts of heavy and light, empty and full and hard and soft.
The idea for the structure took inspiration from the principles behind the spatial constrains and the existing sections of the building, rather than being hindered by them. The major concerns were the building’s acoustic performance and energy efficiency. Using latest techniques decoupling the foundations of the new transformer and no sliding bearings, the architects managed to solve the issues with noise and vibrations. The energy efficiency was achieved using external wall insulation, rainwater harvesting, green roofs and heat recovery ventilation systems.
Photos by Studio Erick Saillet