In 2017, Chatillon Architectes and design partner Snøhetta, along with a large interdisciplinary project team, were commissioned by Eiffage Immobilier to submit a design proposal for the Sciences Po campus in Paris, France.
Located in the iconic “intelligentsia” district of Saint Germain on the left bank of Paris, Sciences Po is one of the most renounced “Grandes Écoles” in France. It has been a beacon of the French educational system for decades, with notable alumni ranging from writers and philosophers to businessmen, lawyers and politicians.
The new campus project is a vision for the Lumières of tomorrow – a tribute to the future, to the digital age of reason. It is a symbol of Candide’s garden, the protagonist from Voltaire’s famous eponymous novel from 1759 – a garden where one can work to change society for the better.
The goal of the project was to imagine the Sciences Po of tomorrow, the Sciences Po Campus of 2022: a site that would function as a hub for modern political science with a strong international anchoring.
The newly acquired Hôtel de l’Artillerie, an ancient Dominican novitiate turned arms museum and military site, situated in immediate proximity to the existing campus, will help tie the existing campus areas closer together.
Although the entire Sciences Po campus is designed as a continuous and unified site, the garden is conceptually subdivided into three distinctive courtyards, each representing one of the three tempora; the future, present and past. While the garden symbolizing the past is situated at the heart of the Sébastolpol courtyard, the garden of the Gribeauval courtyard represents the present. The future is reflected in the Treuil de Beaulieu courtyard, a free-zone imagined as a mixed-use area that can be adapted to the future needs.
Snøhetta and Chatillon Architectes’s design proposal is founded on the idea of creating a generous garden at the heart of Paris. Together with the new campus, the garden is an extension of the existing urban context of the site. It’s both a physical garden and a metaphorical, imaginary garden symbolizing experimentation, cultivation and acquisition of knowledge. The project is thus a tribute to Les Lumières, the Enlightenment, the cultural, philosophical, literary and intellectual movement of the second half of the 18th century which originated in France. It is also a manifestation of the present and a comment on the future of the iconic Sciences Po campus.
At the heart of the new campus, you will find La Ruche, an emerging transparent glass structure regrouping the library, the knowledge hub of Sciences Po. It is a symbol of the unification process of the Sciences Po campus, and functions as a hub for immersion, cultivation and enlightenment.