Using the narrow, prow-shaped plot of land, the building resembles a moored boat floating on undulating greenery.
The Louis Aragon Media Library stands beside the Seine on a former working port that still contains sand pits. The project’s fundamental brief for this exceptional site was largely shaped by nearness of the port and the risk of flooding.
The ground floor cannot be occupied. So the building had to be raised off the ground and could only begin its brief starting on the first floor which is reached via a monumental orange-peel staircase. This remove from the ground has created free space under the building which has been filled in depth by a landscape composed of a carpet of lawns and plants.
This horizontal void is echoed in a vertical void in the building’s center, forming a central patio around which all of the media library’s departments wind like a ribbon. The reception and the children’s sector are found on the first floor with the adults being on the second. The visitors’ route through the building ends on the landscaped roof terrace from which the building’s ribbon-like structure can be best appreciated, not to mention an unhindered view of the Seine.
Two monumental bay windows hallmark two sides of the building: the first opens the activities room onto a view of the city, while the second overlooks the river banks from the reception area.
Sheathed in progressive-density expanded metal, the volumes are abstract with the esthetics deriving from the elementary outlines of the port buildings as a nod to the place’s past. The metallic sheath sometimes covers the windows to filter the light. Only the views from the bay windows are left bare in order to highlight the exceptional view. Using the narrow, prow-shaped plot of land, the building resembles a moored boat floating on undulating greenery. When the Seine begins to exhale its wintery mist, from afar this “boat” will resemble a ghost ship.