Halle Girard Building
Following a recent renovation, the Halle Girard building now houses Lyon’s French Tech; the new incubator for digital businesses, a space for events and a base for digital start-ups. The Halle Girard building is also part of Confluence, one of the largest town expansion projects in Europe. By combining industrial heritage and innovative construction in an eco-district, it greatly contributes to the Confluence project.
The Halle Girard building itself was a former factory, dating from 1857 and features an art deco façade that faces out on the banks of the river Rhône. The renovation focused on opening the former factory building out onto the surrounding environment as a way of reinventing a new living space; with more freedom, more comfort, and more space to breathe. However, the project had to respect and preserve what was already inside the building so minimum was done to its originality, whilst much effort was put into transforming the space at the same time. The project preserves the structure and envelope of the hall as they are primary components of the space. It also proposes a simple and effective architectural response; adapted to the specificities and potential of this industrial hall, as well as the innovative future uses which may emerge, ensuring flexibility around the unpredictability of the digital ecosystem.
The pillar of this project was to make clear the distinction between the two main spaces in the hall; the work spaces, and the events spaces. The distinction is made by making optimal use of the existing hall and its spatial specificities; for example, the generous volumes of space in the main central nave for the events area, the large surface available and the quality of overhead light from the southern shed roofs for the tertiary spaces. This spatial organisation also defines a number of functional sub spaces, which can be provided optionally, depending on the level of confidentiality required and the ownership of the living spaces. The more public areas are on the city side, whilst quieter areas on the other side of the hall.
Extending out from the large events space, the structure of the main nave of the hall and its roof are preserved to make a large empty space available. Here, the transverse, designed by the urban planners Herzog and De Meuron (which will ultimately link the river Saône to the river Rhône), can dilate, absorbing the space cleared by the hall to create a covered square. With the increased visibility on the city side, magnified by its digital staging, the project constitutes an emblematic point of reference; a place where the whole Confluence district can converge, representing an urban showcase for Lyon’s digital ecosystem.
About Vurpas Architects
The firm’s ultimate, ongoing ambition is to create places for people. It does so by establishing a dialogue with the client, from the outset, by working closely with the people who build the programme and by listening to its users. They pay close attention to the use of materials, natural light and colour to build spaces which meet contemporary requirements in terms of comfort and well-being.
The second major conviction of their team, which mainly work on sites which are already built, is the need to create a resonance between a place and the story it tells. The firm benefits from its passion for regenerating buildings and heritage sites, and from its extensive experience and expertise to create a conversation between the project and its setting. Finally, the firm’s environmental commitments are born out of its approach to the sites its projects are built on. The detailed observation of the place and its characteristics, combined with their architects’ technical expertise in environmental quality in buildings, naturally leads them to design and build spaces and forms that are user-friendly and benevolent.