project name

LOCATION Amiens, France
CLIENT University of Amiens
SIZE 50,000 m2

This is an architectural competition submitted with a French team of designers for the Extension of the University of Amiens, France, for their Economics, Humanities, and Languages departments.


It will be built in two phases - a total area of 50,000 m2 - at a cost of over €90M. The project is located on the site of the Citadel of Amiens, an amazing listed Vauban fortress, the remains of which date from XIIth century.


The project aims first to provide outstanding new facilities for a very prominent university in France, with an ambitious expansion program requiring a very flexible layout but at the same time a strong identity capable of bringing a new image to the city. Inspired by the site topography, Alsop designed a canopy of CorTen strips forming a 3/4 amphitheatre softly responding to the site configuration. It hosts a flexible layout of interchangeable floor plans, and more specific but still flexible labs and auditoriums. The new facilities wrap around a restored XIXth century barracks reconverted into the main library. The CorTen helps avoid the solar gain while providing light through its sculptural perforations.


The project aims to revive a heritage treasure, unknown and unused: despite its central-city location, the majority of inhabitants ignore it. Alsop chose to reveal the variation of topographies of the retaining walls, doors, views and pathways, and to constrain the new facilities in these topographies, avoiding "signal" architecture and letting the mass and the mystery of the project be the icon.


Because of the former use of the site as a stronghold, it acts as an enclave and Alsop has considered ways to re-link it to the northern and southern areas of the city. A series of promenades have been designed, referencing the former patrol promenades on the summit of the citadel, which allow inhabitants to enjoy broad city views.