National Courthouse. Paris, France.

The scope for this project is to provide a formal strategy and a conceptual framework for the National Courthouse building in the area of Rive Gauche in Paris. The brief called for the adaptation and integration of the historic Freyssinet Hall - which occupies over 80 per cent of the site, with the addition of 100,000 m2 of housing.

The site is adjacent to a dense urban fabric at its southern border, and the National Library immediately to the north. The residential neighbourhood is comprised of typical Parisian apartment buildings occupied by a vibrant immigrant community. The building mass required to contain the program presented a major challenge to the planners, local politicians, and the neighbouring community.

The question then became about how to create a building form that consolidates two contradictory expectations; the authoritative representation of the institution and the desire to minimize its visual impact. Using minimum formal manipulation, the building form is arrived at by subtraction: sightlines and streets axes are projected onto the building and allowed to shear off mass, dividing the building into segments, opening up vistas and framing views of the context beyond - The resulting form and facade elements maintain a sense of unity and uniformity appropriate for the representation of a courthouse, The strategic fragmentation in this dense context dissolve the building and renders it an elusive object when viewed from the streets of the adjacent neighbourhood. From the north it remains a shimmering edifice, complementing the ‘transparent monumentality’ of the adjacent National Library.


Location: Paris, France

Type: Institutional

Size: 100,000 sq.m

Client: Private

Status: Concept 


Hout Architecture Inc. 

Samer Hout, Concept