ETOILE is located in the middle of Évry, fifteen minutes walk from the city center and the RER station of Évry-Courcouronnes, but also at the crossroads of its various districts: a strategic position to sew the pieces of the city. The project is installed on the edge of the present RN7 splitting the city in two. But if today’s cars run at full speed, it is the pedestrians who will tomorrow pace it when it will be transformed into an urban boulevard with bike paths and public transport. In order to anticipate and encourage this transformation from an urban barrier to a paved and crossing way, the long line of ETOILE is placed perpendicularly to the national, which it seems to straddle like a bridge. The building is lined with a square that extends along the north façade to initiate a pedestrian link between the northeast of the city and the southwestern part.
In 2012, the Mines-Télécom Institute (IMT) is launching a competition for the construction of ETOILE. Block was awarded the prize by placing the building in this exceptional architectural continuity in order to mark the new dynamism sought by the city. The building consists of two volumes: a mineral basement on the ground floor with a facetted and organic hull, overhung by a three-tiered building which, like a giant bilboard, peaks at 21 meters and is clearly signaled in the city . Reactivating a familiar gesture of the national aisles, a nod to Scott and Venturi, this rigid framework of the post-beam, the curtain façade and the inner street reactivate most of the Moderist vocabulary. But its metal mesh deployed inscribes the building in the present time: pixellization of the facade evokes scientific imagery and digital language. Through its spectacular architecture and high-tech display, Block responds to IMT’s request to erect an exemplary building that announces the revitalization of the Evry Val de Seine (PSEVS) Scientific Pole that welcomes it And mark its new entry.
The ETOILE program is ambivalent: it contains areas dedicated to research, where calm and concentration are required, but also a series of places where researchers have the opportunity to share, expose and debate their work. It is a pole intended to experiment but also to communicate, disseminate and value the work carried out there. This duality between research and communication determines the architectural part of Block which divides the building into two distinct volumes. The organic form of the ground floor contains all the public spaces of the program and adapts to it by staying on one or two levels and sometimes in double height. The bilboard, on the other hand, contains in its three levels the more intimate spaces of the research laboratories.
Block reflects the richness and imbrication of this sophisticated program in a spectacular architecture, but sober, minimal and economical in the implementation of its materials. In an industrial spirit, raw concrete, metal and wood are used. This choice is part of a non-ostentatious aesthetic of the counting, which privileges the space and the places offered to its users. The technical nature of the building is apparent in an architecture that is both didactic and practical: there are no false ceilings or plywood, cable tracks and ducts are exposed to users who can directly interact with their workplace.
The architects inscribe ETOILE in the ecological continuum present on the campus: they connect the undergrowth and the landscaped parking located on either side of the building by an organic base pierced by two vegetated patios. Thanks to its bioclimatic architecture, the building reaches a BBC level. The south facade recovers the solar contributions in winter and, with its suitable solar shading, protects itself from overheating in summer. The offices on the north side have a soft light that does not change during the day, while the overheating of the computer rooms on the same side is limited. In n, the natural ventilation of the premises is done between the east and west gables, by the spaces of circulations, avoiding thus any noise nuisances induced by a ventilation on the present RN7.