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Maison Stephane Hessel, France

The competition for a new mixed-use building in Lille piqued our interest both in its unprecedented mixture of program and its prominent triangular site in the heart of the new district of Porte de Valenciennes.

The brief outlined a 70-cradle nursery, a 200-bed youth hostel, and an office dedicated to social and economic innovations all collected under one unified roof; a tall order even by multifunctional building standards. Rather than simply dividing horizontally by level or vertically by mass, our solution combines efficient organization with a programmatic strategy that converts the geometric constrictions of the site into social amenities, and resolves the seemingly contradictory functions in an intertwined social spiral.

Over the past twenty years Lille has become a European hub a destination for business and congress, a great place to study and live and also a tourist destination. It is a city with a turbulent history of conquest and reconquest, a heritage as an important medieval city and later on enjoyed and sometimes suffered the title of Northern France industrial capital.

The Maison Stephane HESSEL emerges from the idea of creating an urban catalyst, designed to accommodate the three ages of mankind, from birth, through adolescence, and into adulthood a volume that captures the stages of human growth. By placing each program at a separate point of the triangle, we maximize privacy at the edges with a continuous gradient of programmatic overlap towards the central, uniting courtyard space which becomes a calm cloister of retreat from the city.

The corners of the building are lifted to invite neighborhood interaction and provide spaces for public activities, extending the function of the building beyond its walls and intentionally blurring the line between private and public. Designed to meet strict energy efficiency targets, the Maison Stéphane HESSEL is an environmentally conscious and socially responsible intervention which responds to an ambitious brief with an equally ambitious solution a hybrid structure that facilitates the life of its users, from nursery to nursing home.

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