Le Monolithe is a recently completed urban superblock located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers in Lyon, France. The unique project is part of a large scale urban regeneration project, developed through a collaboration of five different architects, who designed the mixed-used project spearheaded by MVRDV. Pierre Gautier, Manuelle Gautrand, ECDM, Erik van Egeraat and MVRDV each designed one section of the energy efficient building that combines social housing, rental property, a residence for disabled people, offices and retail.
MVRDV won the chance to design the masterplan for the project back in 2004 and brought on the four other architects to design the four other sections of the urban superblock. A large interior court with a raised public space overlooking the city, a new marina and a park unite the five building sections. Each of the five sections are unique in material, composition and architectural expression. MVRDV designed the head section of the building located next to the waterfront.
A diverse selection of apartments have been included in the design to attract different groups of inhabitants to reflect Lyon’s population. Office spaces are composed of 500 square meter units that can be combined or customized to the firm’s needs. The urban development aims to be inclusive of a diverse group of people, even including residences for disabled persons as well as the collective spirit of Europe. This can be seen by the use of both Dutch and French architects as well as Dutch landscape architects West 8, who designed the public space.
The facade of the MVRDV designed section is covered in aluminum shutters as a reference to traditional local architecture and provides sun protection. In reference to the European Constitution, which France and The Netherlands voted against in 2005, the facade integrates a reminder of the values, ideals and needs of the European Union. When all shutters are closed, the first article of the European Constitution can be read: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”
As for energy efficiency, the building complies with High Environmental Quality (HQE) criteria and includes reinforced insulation, careful selection of materials and rainwater management. Renewable energy sources provide 80% of the total energy consumed. Passive solar design includes sunscreens, high thermal inertia combined with heat storage, PV-cells, low-e double glazing, compactness to minimize heat loss, natural ventilation and an environmentally responsive facade system, all for an energy efficient building that requires less than 40 kWh/m²/year for heating and less than 5 kWh/m²/year for hot water.
Images ©Philippe Ruault