The ambition of the Léonard de Vinci Institute project is to bring together very heterogeneous and sometimes contradictory fragments of the city. At the interface of the omnipresent Grande Arche of the La Défense business district, the Égalité-Fraternité apartment buildings and the Maurice Ravel home by Jacques Kalisz, the U Arena stadium by Christian de Portzamparc and the Terrasses, the Institute extends the overall development of the Croissant undertaken in 2015 by Paris la Défense following the demolition of part of the former MP89 overhead car park.
Designed as part of the first phase of the district's urban renewal (2015-2022), the school stands alongside the infrastructure of the Croissant. Structured around the roadworks of the 1970s, the D914, whose curve the Institute follows, allows the building to benefit from a centrality and immediate proximity to several public transport stations (Nanterre-Préfecture, the future Nanterre-La Folie station, La Défense Grande Arche).
This highly saturated context led us to think about an object that could, through precise architectural elements, resonate with all these scales. While morphologically the school follows the infrastructure, the project was conceived as an object that does not express its vocation and programme, but through its language and the repetition of windows, builds a dialogue with the city.
In the heart of a district with historic and singular architecture, the Léonard de Vinci, thanks to its large openings in the facade, forges its own identity and creates a dialogue with the already existing. The large double-height windows of the agoras are signs intended to be read from afar. Visible from the Passerelle de l'Arche, from the U Arena or from the D914, their transparency opens up the school's common spaces to the outside world and "lets passers by see" the school's life. Oriented towards La Défense, these openings give a direct view of the park of the Puteaux cemetery which the building overlooks. At night, the relationship is reversed and this diaphaneity between the school and the city enlivens the new Aimé Césaire urban boulevard.