Administration Building and Bus Operation Centre in Thias, France

Every day, 800 bus drivers pass through this adminstrative hub, a cog in Paris’s rapid transit system. Add to that the administrative and security employees, as well as the personnel that directs the day-to-day operations of all lines running south and east of Paris, and the result is a lively setting with constant flux. On the exterior, the five separate entrances call attention to the building’s complex inner workings. Because this area is dominated by sprawl, the architects looked to their site – a blend of asphalt and concrete surfaces – for cues to the design. The mighty monolith’s rounded edges make it appear to rise up from the ground surface. Its skin – consisting of fibre-reinforced precast concrete units only 3 cm thick, accentuated by round projections – envelops the outer walls continuously from the bus parking lot to the parapet around the roof terrace. Thanks to its dark-grey scumbled finish, from a distance the textured surface resembles the paving surface, so that the building almost seems to merge with the topography. Sharp-edged cuts in the fluid building massing are covered in four different colours of glass bearing a silver-toned dot matrix. In conjunction with the ribbons of windows positioned flush with the facade, they make reference to the curtain wall facades of the buildings along the main street. Their monochromaticity is in marked contrast to the dark concrete surfaces and animates the facades.
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