The architecture of the new multi-functional Learning Centre of the Lumière University Lyon 2 is based on creating much-needed clarity and flexibility to complement the existing catalogue of buildings at the 16,000-student Porte des Alpes campus. Our proposal also aims to improve both the identifiability and the functionality of the campus.
The Learning Centre consists of two contrasting main levels stacked on top of each other. The lower level is called the “Plinth”. It is a spatially solid volume extruding from the landscape, containing enclosed rooms and specific functions such as meeting facilities, offices, archival storage areas and a café. A dramatic void acts as a sunken courtyard-like lightwell and informal indoor public space creating a public route up to the main platform axis.
The upper level is called the “Platform”. This floor reminiscent of an open landscape connects directly to the forum – the central square of the campus, and conglomerates the fluid spaces and flows of the Learning Centre on one flat and flexible floor. The functionality of the Learning Centre is based on a clever arrangement of movable lightweight elements such as partition walls and furniture. The mezzanine-like third floor is located above the collaborative spaces, and contains the university’s teaching and study labs. There are also smaller, almost furniture-like lofted areas for quiet studying and working above the main reading room.
The light roof with the elegant exposed timber and steel-like structure feels almost as if being outside, in a landscape of learning and intelligence. The sophisticated and simple use of materials and details supports the ambience of thought without distraction, of openness and adaptability to new ideas and experiences, of shared learning space. From the outside, the pedestal emerges from the landscape as a long, elegant shape with a light pavilion sitting on top of it. The structure is large but friendly in its clarity and openness. The curving wooden beams generate a distinct roof landscape that frames the activities within, and the landscape seen by the users in a recognizable and inspiring way.
The Learning Centre is designed to be built in two phases in order to allow the university to have at least the current amount of study space available throughout the construction period. The new building will replace the existing university library.