Zaha Hadid Architects
The Pierresvives building for the department de
l'Herault is the unification of three institutions - the archive,
the library and the sports department - within a single
These various parts combine to create a building with a strong single identity when viewed at a distance, but as one moves closer, the division into three parts becomes apparent.
The building has been developed using functional and economic
logic: the resultant design reminiscent of a large tree-trunk that
has been laid horizontally.
The archive is located at the solid base of the trunk, followed by the slightly more porous library with the sports department and its well-lit offices on far end where the trunk bifurcates and becomes much lighter. "Branches" project vertically off the main trunk to articulate points of access to the various institutions.
This artery is articulated all along the facades as a recessed
glass strip, with the reading rooms of the archive and library are
immediately accessible. Central in this artery and therefore
located at the heart of the building, are the main public
facilities shared between the three institutions: the auditorium
and meeting rooms. These important public spaces form the primary
central volume of the grand cantilevering canopy above the
The front of the building contains all the public functions of each institution, linked by a linear lobby with an exhibition space in the centre. Above this connective ground level, the three institutions remain strictly separated, each with its own core for internal vertical circulation.
It's conception is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive assertions of our will to create dynamic and fluid spaces. It blends formal geometric complexity with bold structures and an innovative use of materials. Architectural creation involves pushing the boundaries - and I believe that Pierresvives is an excellent demonstration of that./Zaha Hadid
The building was christened Pierresvives, the "City of Knowledge and Sports for all," after Rabelais' words: "I build only living stones - men."
Facts about Pierresvives
Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects
Design Phase: Blue Tango
Execution Phase: Chabanne et Partenaires
Ove Arup & Partners
Ove Arup & Partners (Concept Design)
Last updated: January 21, 2013