The former IBM office complex is located in Pompignane, part of the inner suburbs of Montpellier. The site, purchased in 2004 and 2007 by the Covivio Company, is home to some ten office buildings scattered around this 28-hectare Mediterranean landscape. The former Foncière des Régions Company has redeveloped this vast property in a sensitive blending of nature and architecture, aiming to attract new technology companies and foster Montpellier’s own “Silicone Valley”.
BGA was commissioned to build a new office campus for Orange and to redesign the former inter-company cafeteria built-in 1983 by the architect and designer Marc Held. His architecture, greatly inspired by Gallo-Roman villas, is organized around two interior patios, the main one being surrounded by a portico of wooden columns and enclosed by walls made of alternating layers of stone blocks and cobblestones.
BGA’s intervention involved two main parts: first of all, the rehabilitation of the beautiful heritage on the site, overhanging frameworks, Roman-style tile roofs, composite peripheral walls, columns, wooden carpentry, ground paved with sandstone, raw concrete for the original interior structure, with all of this being preserved and restored. Broad gaps have also been cut in the peripheral wall to further open the bastide to the magnificent landscape of the surrounding campus.
A hollow dug out of part of the central courtyard also brings light into the ground floor. In addition, the demolition of the old kitchens, made of exposed cinder blocks, allowed for an extension of the program. The new volume, which repeats the system of patios, houses a business center, an amphitheater, a co-working area, offices for local start-ups, and fitness and wellness areas. An agora, a sunlit, linear area, serves as the link between the existing and the new building, pulling the various programs together.
This new program crowned by a chain of outdoor theaters and planted terraces opens to the broader landscape and is linked by a series of ramps. Festive evenings in the outdoor spaces are perfumed by fragrances of pine, lavender, fig trees, and jasmine released by the sizzling afternoon sun.