La Factory, Offices in Boulogne-Billancourt, France

View all photos

The history and the setting of the building also have to be taken into account. In this case, we were looking at the former Renault plant, which immediately brought to mind old stories of May 1968 and J.-L. Godard’s film Éloge de l’amour that was made there shortly before the factory was demolished. However, when we visited the site, what we found was a huge, beautiful, expectant empty space, which involved constructing a new part of the city. As an architect, I like that sensation of emptiness waiting to be filled and taking on the responsibility of imposing clarity.

However, this is a building designed in terms of volume and thickness, not just of skin. The façades are structural concrete walls, which were a major technological challenge, but the kind of challenge a true constructor loves. The proportion and size of the openings were calculated in relation to the structural behaviour of the building. For reasons of energy consumption, the walls, which I would have liked to leave bare, called for thick thermal insulation, which we then protected with aluminium sheeting. The side walls that continue the roof are of zinc, a traditional artisan material that has a great urban tradition.

Josep Lluís Mateo

Typology: Office Building
Project: 2006-2008
Construction: 2008-2010
Surface: 15,500 m2
Site: Rue Émile Zola. District of Île-Seguin Rives de Seine. Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris (France)
Photo: Adrià Goula

View all plans