ST PAUL – A new media library designed by Paris-based architects Périphériques articulates the beginning of an urban renewal for St Paul, a French commune located along the island of La Reunion’s west coast. The public facility acts as the ‘gateway’ to the city and aims to become a cultural landmark by enhancing the district’s identity through its architecture and function.
The architect’s design boasts a strong presence amongst the mountainous landscape thanks to its shape and readability. Spanning six floors, the library’s unusual façades ‘express the entrance of the city by a strong urban and architectural act.’ Designed along the lines of a ‘book’, undulating striations mimicking ruled pages are articulated with anodized aluminum sunshades mounted on a steel structure, allowing for natural ventilation throughout the building. However, what stands out the most are the irregularly placed openings across its envelope. ‘In this book, some pages opens like eyes to create chapters that structure the building. Terraces created by these gaps frame views of the Indian Ocean,’ say the architects.
The natural landscape infiltrates the building’s ground floor in the form of an outdoor lobby and garden. Around the media center, small islets of vegetation with an integrated seating arrangement creates a communal square for local residents, enhancing St Paul’s central district. For the interior design, the architects commissioned graphic designer Michal Batory to create illustrations. Covering the ceiling, his artwork represents Medias and Réunion Island heritage as it would appear in the imagery of a storybook.