In Saint-Ouen, in 2028, a hyperflexible hospital signed Renzo Piano

It was unanimously that the jury of the competition for the project management of the hospital of Saint-Ouen Grand Paris-Nord, chaired by Martin Hirsch, director of the AP-HP, made its choice, the March 3, on the team formed by RPBW, the world famous agency of Renzo Piano, and Brunet Saunier, a leading French specialist in hospital architecture. Judged better in terms of functionality, scalability as much as inclusion in the urban fabric, their project integrates the principles of hyperflexibility theorized by Brunet Saunier and writing while geometric rationality, play of light and aerial transparency by Renzo Piano.

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A great achievement in view of this more than ingrate competition, which required the insertion of colossal equipment, destined to replace the Bichat and Beaujon hospitals, on a notoriously undersized plot – a triangle of 4.5 hectares, currently occupied by an old (and very beautiful) spare parts factory of the PSA group, located in the ultra-dense fabric of the center of Saint-Ouen and bordered by a railway line which will effectively separate the hospital from the university with which it must train a large health campus.

A narrow lane

The choice of this land was fraught with consequences. From the outset, it led the contracting authority, as noted by the Environmental Authority in its opinion of April 21, 2021, to waive program elements such as “The hospital hotel, essential for the outpatient orientation of the site, and the patient house” and to “Request fairly significant exemptions from the PLUi de Plaine Commune in order to divide by three the free space requirements, by five those relating to green spaces and by seven those relating to the proportion of open ground”.

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Suffice to say that for architects, the way was narrow. This did not prevent the finalists from presenting very diverse options. Exploded and melted in the city for the tandem formed by Groupe 6 and OMA, which has broken down the program into four heterogeneous volumes linked together, but separated by an urban artery. All in interiority for Michel Beauvais, VK Studios and Baumschlager Eberle who imagined a unique building, saturating the plot with its volume pierced by a large courtyard and numerous patios. Between these two extremes, the projects of RPBW / Brunet Saunier and Architecture Studio (associated with designer Patrick Jouin) reflected a search for the optimum between efficiency and urban integration which caught the attention of the jury.

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