Originally conceived as Lille’s bid for the European Medicines Agency, the building continues the original intent of recreating the office typology along three tenets for health: light, air, and nature. In the absence of space for a sperate ground level park— the building is constrained by sprawling highways and roads on either side— we have made the footprint of the building and the park one and the same, giving all employees direct access to nature at all levels while increasing the biodiversity of Lille.
The site directly abuts the major rail and roadways connecting Lille with other major European cities. Nestled between the Grand Palais convention center and the Regional Council for the Hauts-de-France region, the Biotope is a prominent addition to this bustling corridor, connecting the large green areas around the city into one network.
Greenery travels up and around the Biotope as a natural extension of the city’s Green Ring running through the site. The Biotope creates a biodiverse ecosystem in the midst of the city. Derived from the Greek expression for “Place of Life”, the expansive network of terraced gardens, balconies, and bridges are the breeding grounds for over 65 species of plants.
From a human perspective, the landscaping provides a comfortable microclimate to take a moment of respite filled with diverse sights and scents. Equally important, however, is its contribution to CO2 reduction and local biodiversity. The Biotope creates a habitat for local plant and wildlife complete with nesting boxes, collected rainwater, and fertile substrates.
The serpentine floor plan follows a roughly figure-eight path, a stark departure from the traditional corridor-style office building. Instead, employees circulate through a winding trail of skybridges, balconies, and rooftop gardens.
Large glass facades link interior office spaces seamlessly with the numerous outdoor spaces populating the building’s exterior. Ending up on one of the open-air balconies lining the interior perimeter or a rooftop garden is inevitable by design. Every floor has access to outdoor space, creating an equal and democratic distribution of nature across the office.
Employees seated on any balcony are surrounded by the transparent interior façade, creating an open view of the municipality at work and reflecting the circular office environment.
Built for the City of Lille during its reign as World Design Capital and inaugurated during a COVID altered workflow, Biotope is a timely remake of the office typology.
Despite the turn toward remote work, there is no replacement for in-person collaboration, whether it’s on the rooftop garden or in the spacious atrium. Now more than ever, we need healthy workplace environments that prioritize outdoor spaces, abundant natural light, and ventilation.
The building is conceived as a ripple made of glass, light, and vegetation. These three core elements form the building blocks of the design, where abundant daylight, ventilation, and nature contribute to the wellbeing of the municipal workers of the city of Lille. Like everything else in the Biotope, the angled glass panels are both beautiful and functional; the double skin façade regulates the interior temperature, reducing carbon emissions from heating the building.