Collège de France
Client : Ministry of Culture, major works department
Architect of record : Bernard Huet
Architect and associate interior designer : Wilmotte & Associés SA
Structural and HVAC consultant : Sechaud & Bossuyt
Planning : Dadu
Construction cost consultant : Marc Vareille
Area : 20,000 m²
Redevelopment, extension, and fitting-out of the Collège de France.
The redevelopment of the Collège de France, an 18th century building, commissioned by the President of the Republic within the framework of major State projects, was entrusted to the architectural team of Bernard Huet/Wilmotte & Associés SA. The Collège de France was born out of nascent humanism, reason, and logic. If the first buildings constructed were in the image of the institution, it is clear that over time, successive changes have blurred the evidence of their original design. The architectural choices thus responded to two main criteria: restoration of this lost logic, and affirmation of that which had always characterised the site – tradition and innovation. Bringing together these two concepts, the theme of rootedness is present throughout the project. It is expressed by the extension of the facades at basement level, the existing structure of the building, and restoration of the vaults that the old configuration had hidden.
The first phase of work focused on the classical, late-18th century building, the sober ornamentation of which regained its original rigour. It was designed to bring together all the reception and teaching spaces. The aim was thus to give back to the building both its original coherence and a high degree of functionality. This desire was translated through three main elements: the reception lobby, enlarged by two side bays, which takes up the full width of the Letarouilly courtyard facade; integration of all of the building services into mobile elements; and the lecture rooms and small lecture theatres, which are to be found on the ground floor and in the basement around the foyer – a strategic point conceived as a new main courtyard.
The small lecture theatres are five in number, can seat from 52 to 200, and are designed for acoustic, ergonomic, thermal and visual comfort. The large lecture theatre, with its 420 seats, is one of the major works of this redevelopment. Created from scratch under the main courtyard, its lowest level is located some 7.5 metres below the ground floor: all of the facades facing onto this courtyard were underpinned.
The entire project also included the refit of the scientific laboratories located in buildings dating from the 20th century, and also renovation of the literature libraries on Rue du Cardinal Lemoine.