The waste sorting center is located in a part of a town recently refocused on industry with its utilitarian programs of covered markets, slaughterhouses, hangars, gas stations and car parks. The decline of these activities and their relocation over the past thirty years has promoted the renewal of the neighborhood which witnessed the arrival of some of the most daring architectural projects of their time including the Parc de la Villette by Bernard Tschumi and its 26 architectural follies, the Cité de la Musique by Christian de Portzamparc and more recently the extravagant Philharmonie de Paris by Jean Nouvel.
Located at an old roundabout that was restructured to allow the tramway to pass through, the site is surrounded by several road infrastructures: the ring-road above, a tunnel beneath and four lanes of traffic on either side. In reality the fact it is in an enclave lends it a strategic position at the center of many flows, benefiting from very good visibility and enjoying excellent services. To fit into this area, the waste sorting center, which is by definition ani unattractive concern, becomes in a way an object of curiosity, as with the neighboring architecture. With an area of 1,400 m2, its immaculate volume emerges from this interlacing of roads, like a pearl in a case of tarmac.
The waste sorting center protects itself from the surroundings with an enclosure of white bricks whose curved walls stretch for 35 to 40 meters. These walls have been established so as to attract the attention of casual passers by and thereby encourage them to bring their garbage there too, whilst also creating a link between Paris and the outside of the ring-road, between pedestrians and traffic, allying utility and allure.
The underside of the ring-road becomes a flowing milky way and this limited resources little project which was aimed at sublimating its initial function is in fact a little treasure. Yesterday’s waste after all is the resource of tomorrow.
Resistance and lightness
The enclosure of the waste sorting center is both robust and light, to confront the infrastructures surrounding it and to please the passing pedestrian. It consists of a set of white ceramic bricks, some of which are detached from the wall in a staggered pattern. Coupled with a height of 3m30, this layout prevents any degradation while allowing the light and the eyes of the curious to filter through the glass bricks cast in the mass. The urban environment is reflected on this moving skin which vibrates with the light of day or with the headlights of vehicles zipping by. Inside, the concrete and galvanized steel spaces are what support the overwhelming load of the device. Signs on the ground guide the public, employees and vehicles to where they need to go.
Garbage gets a second life
At a time when recycling depots are flourishing all over France as the movement of recycling, recovery, reuse and upcycling means the question of offering a second life to our waste has become central. To ensure everyone’s economic and ecological interests, the waste sorting center offers free access to the general public and consists of:
_open spaces: a low platform for skips of 3m50 x 7m and a high platform from which to throw waste,
_a closed room for employees with a fully equipped kitchenette and toilets,
_three open spaces for hazardous waste, household appliances and re-use,
_an area where the city fleet can be cleaned.