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The L’Arbrisseau neighbourhood centre is located in the southern suburbs of Lille. Its helical shape, the staircase that winds itself up around the sides of the building and its aluminium cladding, like a space vessel’s, all make it stand out. They create a contrast with a rather disjointed and sometimes deprived urban environment.
There is clear political ambition and varied urban landscape offers great potential. This is a tight-knit community: people born in L’Arbrisseau often spend their whole lives here. The challenge for this project was to embody this sense of renewal as well as a certain community spirit.
The building was built and designed together with local people and the city council. Users came up with ideas – ranging from the most trivial to the most metaphorical. They wanted in particular a tree to make sure there was the symbol of their neighbourhood, which is called l’Arbrisseau (‘arbre’ is French for tree). And so they got a tree – a 12-metre tree of life with a terrace nestling on each level and a panoramic viewpoint at its tip.
The building is arranged in a spiral around a central atrium. This means that it faces no particular direction but instead speaks to everyone equally. The building’s layout allows each age group to relate directly to the one below it and the one above. The libraries are two storeys in height and create interesting spatial and visual effects as well as allowing the installation of raked seating. This encourages flexible and improvised use of the space, as befits a neighbourhood centre.
The aim of superimposing the various schemes was to free up the greatest possible space for a garden around the bottom of the building. Stretching the building vertically increases its visibility and its prestige.
All of the different schemes are united around a common atrium. A concrete tower houses the facilities, staircases and lifts, as well as supporting the building. The design of this tower articulates the structural forces acting upon it and the toothing of the girders holding up the floors on either side. The solid, mineral mass and its extruded appearance also bring to mind the region’s characteristic underground chalk quarries (there is one behind the building).
The very particular volume distribution of the L’Arbrisseau neighbourhood centre is emphasized by its untreated aluminium and glass sheathing. This cover adds to its magnetism; the building catches the light and focuses the sun’s rays to form an attractive, shimmering whole.

Client: City of Lille
Location: Lille (59), France 
Budget: € 4,360,000 excluding all tax 
Net floor area: 1 779 sqm
Project management: 
Architects agents > CFA
Project Manager > Arnaud Sachet
Team > Benjamin Colboc, Ulrich Faudry, Manuela Franzen, Malik Hammadi, Kerstin Heller, Bruno Sarles, Emmanuel Villoutreix, Lena Weis
Mission > Basic studies and partial execution
Engineering offices > Fluids: INEX - Structure: C & E - Engineering Acoustic: Jean-Paul Lamoureux - Economist: Bureau Michel Forgue - OPC: Philippe Bauer Programmation 
Beginning of studies: project competition winner, October 2007 
Delivery date: June 2011 
Ground floor: Hall, Mother and Child Protection, Multi Home, Garden
R+1: Leisure centre without accommodation nursery, space 6-12, terrace
R+2: Space 12-16 years, multipurpose room, adult space, terrace
R+3: Administration, housing service, patio gazebo.
R-1: Technical rooms + parking 8 places 
Award: Nomination for the Prix de l'Equerre d'Argent 2011
Sustainable Development: 
HEQ and BBC Label
- Selection of construction procedures and products: use of certified material
- Economic energy management: BBC building – consumption: 48,68 kwhep/m²/year, CEP=CREF – 58,4% RT 2005 - photovoltaic panels - ground-coupled heat exchanger – connection to district heating - performance monitoring
- Water management: storm water reuse - dual-flow air handling units with heat recovery system
- Hygrothermal comfort
- Acoustic comfort
Photographer : Paul Raftery

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