Designed by ANMA, The new Ministry of Defence building is a complex operation due to its dual urban and architectural nature. It is located on a 16.5-hectare site divided into three plots: the Victor plot to the east (8.5 hectares) is home to the Cité de l’Air, whose buildings have been either demolished or rehabilitated; the central Valin plot (8 hectares) is occupied by the main building of the ministry, and the western Corne Ouest plot is given over to a commercial real estate programme.
ANMA was tasked with coordinating the three plots, building the ministry’s main building (146,500 m²) and restructuring the Perret building on the Valin plot, as well as constructing two buildings on the Victor plot.
The project’s goal was to group together the ministry buildings previously scattered across some 15 sites around Paris. The building is both majestic and discreet, combining a visibly monumental character with a garden landscape representing 60% of the site area, thanks to the choice of building on stilts which frees up space for a series of planted courtyards. The plan is based on a dynamic shape that starts off with a hexagon and then spreads out in multiple directions. For security reasons, the military headquarters is positioned centrally, away from the less sensitive functions located in outlying buildings, while the command and control center is housed in an underground concrete bunker.
The concrete structure of the outer wall is concealed beneath a double-skinned façade of screen-printed glass and ceramic glass laid as horizontal slats in different tones of white, the color of peace. The official main entrance is formed by a towering crevasse with a dark grey steel façade, continuing on from the folds of the roof. Inside, the patio façades are covered in colored glass panels in shades of green and blue. The panels are laid out as pixelated surfaces and designed to suggest military camouflage.
The building’s roof can be seen from the ring road, resembling a huge dark origami. This fifth façade displays the sort of jagged lines that evoke stealth aircraft military technology. It is dominated by the three towering 45-meter ventilation chimneys.
The 17,000-m2 building incorporated in the project was built by the Perret brothers in 1934 and has been rehabilitated. Its irregular corner connects to the ministry’s extended arms. Adopting the same approach as used for the new constructions, the Perret building is covered with a metal over-roof, giving it visual consistency with the overall project.
The project is designed to be a natural machine capable of using the renewable energy produced on-site to operate autonomously 80% of the time. Its 128,000 m2 of office space are equipped with opening windows and are not air-conditioned. The site’s total energy consumption (ventilation, air conditioning, hot water, and lighting) is 43 kWh per m² per year. The 6,500 m² of photovoltaic roof panels provide up to 80% of the site’s energy needs. Four geothermal wells meet almost all cooling needs, either by direct exchange in radiant ceilings or via two pumps that recover calories from the data center, and are capable of meeting around 70% of heating needs and providing 100% of the hot water needed for the bathroom facilities. Fresh air, cooled by the plants and water, is harnessed in the courtyards and extracted naturally by the large chimneys thanks to the thermal gradient and wind.
In the office building, the traditional model of partitioned offices required by the programme has been adapted to meet contemporary needs, such as energy saving, comfort in the workplace and retaining a human scale. It also respects the esprit de corps that is a core value of the army, and that is given concrete form in the composite approach to site configuration.
Location: 3 Avenue de la Porte de Sèvres, 75015 Paris, France
Area: 17,000 m2
Project Year: 2015
Project Team: Jean-Pierre Buisson, Simon Barthélémy, Cecilia Bertozzi, Henry Gagnaire, Gérald Sellier
Photographs: Cécile Septet
Project Name: New Ministry of Defense in Paris