"Completed last fall, the 67,640-square-foot building, which contains a ground-floor furniture showroom and offices above, is perched on a river’s edge in a converted industrial zone in Lyon, France. Surrounded mostly by gray, modern structures, the six-story box, with its conical gashes and pulsating orange veil, is the life of the party.
On any given day, you’ll find locals and tourists alike gathering outside the building, studying its unusual features and snapping photos.
It’s a brazen work of architecture for any city, particularly Lyon. While one of the most progressive industrial centers in the 19th century and home of the visionary urbanist Tony Garnier (1869-1948), Lyon has become fairly subdued in recent decades. The city has, however, embarked on various endeavors to boost its cosmopolitan character. In the 1990s, it opened Cité Internationale, a 37-acre mixed-use project by Renzo Piano. More recently, it set out to redevelop a run-down harbor district dominated by warehouses. It is here, in the new “Lyon Confluence” district — so named because it occupies the tip of a peninsula where the Saône and Rhône rivers meet — that the Orange Cube enlivens the landscape.
In January 2006, Jakob + MacFarlane won a competition to design the building that would become the Orange Cube. No tenants were lined up at the time; the brief simply called for an eye-catching structure on a half-acre site. “The idea was to have a competition, get iconic buildings, and, through this interesting architecture, get someone to pay for it all,” explains MacFarlane. The building’s first two floors had to accommodate cultural programming, while the upper levels would house offices. The brief also stipulated that the building envelope not fill the entire site, that it have a certain amount of negative space.
That last requirement inspired the architects to create a box pierced by three large voids oriented toward the water. “The most obvious solution, from our point of view, was to take the negative space and treat it as a cutout from the whole,” says MacFarlane. “It seemed like a good of way of making something interesting out of the project.”
Article by Jenna M. McKnight
All pictures from archrecord.construction.com