AGORA

SCAPE as Architects

International Competition for Agora, the new centre for cancer research, on the site of the HospitalCampus of Lausanne (CHUV – Cité Hospitalière)

 

The Agora is the place where both fundamental and clinical research on cancer is carried out, thetwo aspects being united with the objective of pushing ever further the boundaries of scientificresearch.

 

The main planning priorities were: -to allow total flexibility for the project to be adapted over time -to find an innovative solution, customary and necessary in the case of such an important project

 

The structure of the building is straightforward, a ‘universal’ pattern that is repeated on differentfloors without great modification. The floors are beamless and supported by pillars that aredistributed in a regular manner and whose load bearing charge is coordinated with infrastructuralelements. The floors develop from areas that can be fitted out or altered as required to create spacesfor research and meeting. Geometric unity is subject to the large scale of a research laboratory; it isrepeated throughout the project.

 

The intention is to incorporate all the elements of the programme in one single building, offeringvarious architectural possibilities rather than just one, by making it possible to design open spaceswithin the whole building. It will be organized with the purpose of using the minimum possiblematerials, in other words, focussed on the idea of ‘efficiency.’

 

The Agora project should be looked at as work in progress and not as a finished scheme and as afluid whole rather than a series of fragmented spaces.

 

• On ‘Architecture and Research:’ modulating the façades

 

The design groups together all the activities linked to research. And research architected in anorganised fashion to arrive, via a methodical and gradual approach to a hypotheses, at abreakthrough.

 

Here, the result seems architected. Long gangways run along the façades on every level to create ascaffolding effect in stainless steel.

 

. The aesthetic of visible service gangways along the façades of the Agora echoes that ofscaffolding. A building covered in scaffolding only exists in space and time during the intermediaryprocess between planning and realisation, in the same way that scientific research is an intermediaryprocess between putting a question and finding an answer. Hence the aesthetic reference of thefaçade to building site scaffolding.

 

• Architecture and its objective motives

 

The architecture of the Agora is taut. It requires the concatenation of spaces, from public areas (theAgora) to extremely private areas (laboratories), it is circumscribed by the steep elevation of theplot and characterised by a slight movement in the structure that, without complicating the reading,varies the perception of a façade made up of identical technical components. Inside, the materialsused are congruent with the strongly technical image: floors in resin or pvc and walls in glass andstainless steel.

 

Award winning design (2rd prize)

 

Credits 

Architecture: Francis Soler (lead architect), SCAPE (Ludovica Di Falco, Francesco Marinelli, Alessandro Cambi, Paolo Mezzalama) associated architect

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