The project to rehabilitate the old extension to the SNCF head offices on Place de Budapest in the 9th arrondissement provided an opportunity to address the problematic of rehabilitating a post-modern building, while at the same time focusing on approaches to urbanism at a meeting point between two eminently Parisian neighbourhoods.
The building, constructed by the SNCF for its own use in 1981 is, in effect, located at the frontier between two urban universes associated with two very strong Parisian identities. To the north, that of the Nouvelle Athènes neighbourhood, and, to the south, the wide Haussmannian boulevards bordering the central business district – dense, compact urban areas in which the main public spaces are congested boulevards and junctions thronged with pedestrians. Located on the frontier of these two worlds, the Place de Budapest is especially rare and precious in that its dimensions and proportions are impeccably urban (similar, for example, to those of the Place de la Sorbonne and the Place de l’Odéon). It has the potential to become a strongly polarised area, contributing, in return, to valorising the tertiary buildings that surround it.
Reinventing this Parisian address involved simultaneously highlighting an urban scale for the entire complex and making improvements the Place de Budapest, which was, at the time, characterised by the fact that its ground floor units were underused. The task at hand was to rehabilitate both the building and the uses of the square.
The original building had a long façade that addressed three distinct environments: a square to the west, a street to the north, and a garden to the south. Our project preserves the aesthetic unity of this major tertiary sector building, while adapting it to those environments and to the overall context.
In order to ensure the major corporate buildings located in the Opéra-Saint Lazare neighbourhood retain their expressive nature, our building eschews the fragmentation that previously characterised the Place de Budapest by featuring a largely glazed façade that reveals, from the square, the busy life of the offices inside. Thanks to the fact that it is west-facing, the building’s high-quality work spaces offer unobstructed views. On the upper floors, balconies with glazed guardrails provide the façade with additional depth and give the building a light, immaterial look. They also play an important role in guaranteeing use comfort by protecting the offices from direct sunlight. A series of loggias accentuates the complicity between the square and the building. They present split-level planted areas, which create an additional interface between the busy offices and the street. The project is, therefore, faithful to one of our firm’s deepest convictions: the work spaces we create have a domestic air.
The main access to the offices has been moved to the centre of the square. Occupying a height of two floors in the centre of the building, it resituates it within the logic of the flows of people arriving from Saint-Lazare station. It also helps to recreate a more direct urban rapport between the building and the Place de Budapest, and highlights the way in which the building provides it with structure.