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Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

France Architecture News - Sep 28, 2023 - 16:33   2594 views

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Paris-based firm frenak+jullien, Canadian firm Cardin Julien, French firm m+mathieu holdrinet have completed a planetarium at the heart of the Université de Strasbourg, France

Named Planétarium du Jardin des sciences de l’Université de Strasbourg, the 1,000-square-metre project is composed of two volumes: a truncated cone - housing the 138-seat projection room and its entrance gallery, and a cylindrical volume - accommodating the lobby of the Jardin des sciences and related services.

The volumes, standing with a dark presence on site, are clad in burnt wood to appear with an unusual geometry. 

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

The shapes of the buildings evoke the reminiscent of the 19th-century machine-buildings found on the site, such as the observatory's dome and pavillons des mires, and evokes astronomical measuring instruments such as the astrolabe.

The new Planétarium du Jardin des sciences has opened its doors in a redesigned garden located at the heart of the Université de Strasbourg. Located along Avenue de la Victoire, its strategic position makes it a beacon in the city.

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

The buildings were envisioned to picture the sky, imagining the cosmos, talking about astronomy: the program’s dreamlike dimension was developed by the architectural team led by frenak+jullien.

Cardin Julien, who served as Associate Architects, and m+mathieu holdrinet served as Project Architect, helping to create the building’s singular form.

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

A connection to the sky and the earth 

Situated between the imposing Zoology and Geology institutes, two dark volumes make up the planetarium that stands out against the garden's abundant greenery.

The complex is built from a truncated cone, housing a 138-seat projection room and its entrance gallery, and a cylindrical volume  - accommodating the lobby of the Jardin des sciences and related services. 

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

"Reaching for the sky, the truncated cone suggests a timeless quest for knowledge of the universe, while the open and radiant lobby points towards the many sites managed by the Jardin des sciences," said frenak+jullien, Cardin Julien, m+mathieu holdrinet.

"Dedicated to the dissemination of scientific culture within the university, the Jardin des Sciences thus gains new visibility," the team added.

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Machine-building

The design of unusual geometry takes cues from the reminiscent of the 19th-century machine-buildings found on the site, such as the observatory's dome and pavillons des mires, and evokes astronomical measuring instruments such as the astrolabe. 

For passersby, the cone's metal disc beckons and reacts to the changing colours of the sky; for local residents overlooking the site, the planetarium's fifth façade evokes an astronomical instrument set in a garden.

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

A fruitful duality 

The two elements, the planetarium and the reception area, consist of shared components, but are put together in opposite ways. 

Turned inward, the planetarium is empty around the perimeter - the access corridor to the auditorium and full at its centre - the auditorium, while the reception area, which opens outward to the garden, is empty at its centre (the hall) and is surrounded by a ring of buildings. 

One is bright and opens onto the sky through a glass roof shaped like a sundial, while the other is plunged into darkness, to create the artificial sky of the cosmic theatre.

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Conditioning and immersion  

Tucked between the cone’s hemisphere and its inner face, the slightly slanted circular gallery offers a spatial experience in which one goes from the brightness of the hall to the penumbra essential to the cosmic theatre, where artificial skies are made. 

The cross-laminated-timber (CLT) wood panels of the exposed structure rise to a height of 17-metre-height, forming giant facets; a vastness that prepares one for a journey into space. 

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

The gently sloping ramp leads the spectator to the top of the auditorium, beneath the projection dome whose suspension and inclination heighten the immersive effect. 

The lighting is minimal, illuminating a night blue environment with a high absorption coefficient. The 6 digital projectors laid out around the perimeter are accessible via the technical gallery that surrounds the room.

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Russian dolls  

The nestled volumes, such as cone, dome, screen - and the precision required for the suspension of the projection screen led to special constructive solutions. 

It involved an atypical assembly logic during the building phase, such as the mounting of the planetarium's metal dome prior to that of the cone's covered enclosure.

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Burnt wood, light-coloured wood, compactness: an environmental and aesthetic concern  

Burnt wood and aluminum on the outside, light-coloured wood and plaster on the inside: the materials used for the building are few, simple, and contrasting. 

On the outside, the building's telluric or volcanic appearance is reinforced by a charred film of Douglas fir slats, whose deep brown-black texture takes on silvery reflections in low-angled sunlight. Inside, light-coloured wood panels take over, contributing to the hall's bright atmosphere. 

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

The compactness of the building, and the positioning of the openings on the hall side, greatly limit the building's heat loss, thus ensuring optimal environmental performance.

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

The Jardin des sciences, a public garden 

Running between the two streets, the garden is designed as a succession of plant environments, from shady undergrowth in the north, to tree-dotted meadows in the south. 

In addition to the beautiful existing trees, high-growing trees and flowering shrubs will create a woodland atmosphere with strong autumnal colors, mirroring the diversity of the nearby Botanical Gardens. 

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

To the south, a long plant-covered ditch regulates rainwater and broadens the ecosystems' range. 

To accent the site, 8 circular gardens - the constellations feature a variety of plants and mineral mulches, which echo the institutes of Zoology and Geology, as well as the Botanical Garden, while also alluding to the solar system's 8 planets.

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Site plan

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Landscape plan

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Floor plan

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Roof plan

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Section

Planetarium clad in burnt wood at Université de Strasbourg evokes 19th century machine buildings

Axonometric drawing

Project facts

Project name: Planétarium du Jardin des sciences de l’Université de Strasbourg 

Location: 27 Boulevard de la Victoire, 67000 Strasbourg, France

Client: UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg 

Opening: Summer 2023

Floor area: Building 1000 m2, garden 5000 m2, 138-seat screening room

Project team

Architecture: frenak+jullien (lead architects), Cardin Julien (associate architects), m+ mathieu holdrinet (project architect)

Landscape architecture: FORR 

Structural engineering: MaP3 

Mechanical-electrical engineering, energy efficiency and sustainable development: Espace Temps

Civil engineering: OTE

Scenography: dUCKS sceno  

Acoustics: Lamoureux

All images © Maxime Delvaux.

All drawings © frenak+jullien, Cardin Julien, m+ mathieu holdrinet.

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