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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Poetic architecture for new École Polytechnique building

Designed in collaboration by several international architecture firms, France’s new shared learning building, BEM, will accommodate classes from seven leading French engineering Institutions.

École Polytechnique’s BEM ©Sergio Grazia

BEM was built to the common ambition of seven engineering schools, all located in École Polytechnique’s district, to pool their educational spaces in order to optimise, as part of a responsible approach to the use of resources, the space built and the room occupancy rate.

École Polytechnique’s BEM ©Sergio Grazia

A building that encourages meetings, interactivity and innovative teaching methods

The building is able to host multidisciplinary inter-institutional projects. With a capacity of 1,470 students, it has a large 250-seat amphitheatre, three 80-seat amphitheatres and around fifty rooms spread over 3 floors. There are also spaces dedicated to innovative pedagogy such as “distance-learning rooms”, videoconferencing, collaborative working spaces and various “project rooms”.

École Polytechnique’s BEM ©Sergio Grazia

Organised around a wide atrium that leads to more intimate spaces, the BEM leaves plenty of room for both discussion and concentration.

École Polytechnique’s BEM ©Sergio Grazia

A unique architecture for a unifying project

Designed by Sou Fujimoto Architects (contractor), OXO architectes – Manal Rachdi, Nicolas Laisné architectes and DREAM – Dimitri Roussel, the BEM is a generous and unique space that blurs the boundaries between indoors and outdoors.

École Polytechnique’s BEM ©Sergio Grazia

With a surface area of 10,000m², including a 1,000m² atrium open over 4 levels, its fluid volume is articulated between networks of footbridges, sets of staircases and large wooden tiers. All of this is achieved by combining urbanity and porosity to offer the seven Institutions a venue to match their ambitions.

École Polytechnique’s BEM ©Sergio Grazia

The challenge of this architectural project was to create a building that would act as a catalyst, encouraging people to come together, while remaining consistent with the landscape in which it is integrated. Organised as an extension of the neighbouring park, nature remains at the heart of its design. Its large transparent façade, its interior vegetation and its openness to the surrounding landscape mean that it is fully integrated into the surrounding environment.

École Polytechnique’s BEM ©Sergio Grazia

Finally, its origami staircases and roof, combined with its transparent spaces, allow the BEM to break with the traditional image of education with minimalism and poetry.

École Polytechnique’s BEM ©Sergio Grazia
École Polytechnique’s BEM ©Sergio Grazia

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