Le Monolith by MVRDV


Le Monolith by MVRDV

Here are some photos of the recently-completed mixed-use urban block Le Monolith in Lyon, France, masterplanned by Dutch studio MVRDV and designed by five different architects.

Le Monolith by MVRDV

The building incorporates social housing, rental property, offices, retail and accommodation for disabled people.

Le Monolith by MVRDV

Five distinct sections were each designed by a different architect; the collaborating firms are French architects ECDM, Manuelle Gautrand and Pierre Gautier, and Dutch studios MVRDV and Erick van Egeraat.

Le Monolith by MVRDV

MVRDV were responsible for the south-facing waterfront section, where aluminium shutters shield the interiors from sunlight.

When these shutters are closed, letters on the facade spell out the first article of the European Constitution.

See Erick van Egeraat's portion in our earlier story.

See all our stories about MVRDV »

Photographs are by Philippe Ruault.

Here are some more details from MVRDV:

MVRDV completes ‘Le Monolithe’, Lyon

‘Le Monolithe’, an energy efficient mixed-use urban block located in the development area Confluence at the southern tip of Lyon’s Presqu’île, has reached completion. The structure with a total surface of 32.500 m2 combines social housing, rental property, a residence for disabled people, offices and retail. The block is composed of five sections, each one designed by a different architect, following the MVRDV masterplan: Pierre Gautier, Manuelle Gautrand, ECDM and Erik van Egeraat. Landscape architects West 8 designed the public plaza. MVRDV designed the head section which advertises over the full façade the European integration by quoting the EU constitution. ‘Le Monolithe’ has been realized by ING Real Estate Development and Atemi.

Le Monolithe:

In 2004, ING Real Estate Developers had invited a group of international architects to design the masterplan, for which MVRDV was chosen as winner. Based on this masterplan, each architect was asked to design a section which together form ‘Le Monolithe’. The urban superblock is a mixed-use development comprising a mix of social and rental housing, offices and underground parking. The block is characterised by a large interior court with a raised public space overlooking the city, the new marina and a park, in this way resembling the French classical ‘Grand Gallérie’. The block is divided into five sections, each one designed by a different architect in order to achieve diversity and architectural variety. MVRDV is responsible for the head section in the south at the waterfront. Each part is unique in material, composition and architectural expression. The project forms part of the urban regeneration project ‘Lyon Confluence’, a 150 hectare site located at the southern tip of Lyon’s Presqu’île, where the rivers Rhône and Saône merge.

South building:

The interiors of MVRDV’s south facing building are protected from the sun by means of aluminium shutters as a reference to traditional local architecture. Apartments inside Le Monolithe offer a great diversity in order to attract different groups of inhabitants making the block a reflection of Lyon’s population. Offices are divided into separate units of min. 500 m² which are accessed by three vertical circulation cores, providing individual access. Each unit allows for a flexible fit out, depending on the tenants’ needs and requirements. All spaces are naturally lit and ventilated.

In June 2005, when France and The Netherlands voted against the European Constitution, MVRDV decided to redesign the façade and integrate a reminder of the values, ideals and needs of the European Union. When all shutters are closed, the first article of the European Constitution can be read: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

It aims to advocate a possible ‘Yes’ for Europe in days of protectionism, accompanying the collective EU spirit of the gathered architects. The adjacent sections were designed by French and Dutch architects Pierre Gautier, Manuelle Gautrand, ECDM and Erik van Egeraat. Dutch landscape architects West 8 designed the public space.

‘Le Monolithe’ is one of the projects within the greater scheme for Lyon Confluence which has been developed as part of Grand Lyon’s European Concerto-Renaissance programme, a project supported by the European Commission. The building not only complies with High Environmental Quality (HQE) criteria, such as reinforced insulation, careful selection of materials and rainwater management; further, 80% of the total energy consumed is provided by renewable energy sources. The combination of efficient spatial composition, passive energy (sunscreens, high thermal inertia), thermal and acoustic comfort and an energy strategy that includes heat storage, PV-cells, low-e double glazing, compactness to minimise heat loss, natural ventilation and an environmentally responsive façade system make ‘Le Monolithe’ a highly efficient low energy construction, e.g. heating accounts for <40 kWh/m²/year and hot water <5 kWh/m²/year.

The ambitious greater urban project Lyon Confluence extends the city centre to the very tip of the peninsula by creating diverse neighbourhoods involving retail and leisure zones, parks, cultural institutions, housing, schools and offices, and local public amenities.

See also:


Monolith by
Erick van Egeraat
Rotterdam Market Hall
More architecture

Posted on Tuesday December 14th 2010 at 9:05 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • I would like to see more pictures of West 8's public plaza. From the one photo provided it looks dull and uninviting. Definitely not what I would expect from West 8.

  • zecks

    the constitution idea is pretty cheesy but i still like it

    • felix

      these kind of things normally _sound_ cheesy, but for people who experience it without an introduction it's an interesting discovery

  • Deepdesign

    Bulky and ugly from the outside. The interior courtyard seems too plain. Nice detail with the wooden window on black. More pictures of the interior spaces would be nice…

  • hmmmmm

    For housing experts (that's mostly what they actually get built, right?) MVRDV have an extraordinary talent for creating inhumane spaces…

  • felix

    yeah nothing really can be said about this without seeing some interiors.

    personally, i like the courtyard. it'll have a lot of foot traffic when the building's in full use so it has to be spacious. i like how the trees look like bonsais in those shallow containers. mvrdv always seem to have interesting planters

  • ah…. thank God i see good project from MVRDV again.. Reminds me Silodam…

  • Maarten

    wow, brutal beauty!

  • pfilmus

    pobres habitantes de lyon

  • Lee Corbusier

    It ain't half bleak mum.

    MVRDV are either sociopaths or massive ironic jokers.

  • bld

    Imagine you are 6 years old and your parents say "nous allons vivre ici" (my french sucks, I know… "we are going to live there") while pointing at this buidling… I'm not 6 but I think my first thoughts resemble something of a scary David Lynch film. The film Poltergeist, a horror film who's lead is a small girl being haunted while living in the John Hancock Center in Chicago, also comes to mind. Interior?

  • this is Disneyland architecture–a total lack of authenticy. Virtually every corporate architect taking this approach to de-massing at this point . Its 4 oppressive facades pretending to be separate forms with no sense of composition. These guys are washed up.