LOCATION Amiens, France
CLIENT University of Amiens
SIZE 50,000 m2
DESIGNED IN 2011
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
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
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
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