Administrative Headquarters in Marne-la-Valleé, France

The huge Noisiel plant, once reputed to be the largest chocolate factory in the world, has been converted into a prestigious administrative headquarters for a large concern. The complex is set in an attractive location on the River Marne only 18 km from Paris. Built in the 19th century and in the early years of this century, it contains a number of innovative structures. These include the iron and brick building by Jules Saulnier – one of the first exposed iron-framed structures ever to be realized – which links the island with the mainland; the elegant, iron-framed engine house known as the “Halle Eiffel”; and the huge, brightly lit display hall, nicknamed “la Cathédrale”. A circulation spine was created along the lines of the former works railway, with daylight entering via roof-light strips. On both sides of this axis are two- to three-storey office units with a demountable partition system that allows flexibility in the layout. The canteen and other leisure facilities for the staff are located in the buildings on the island. Office accommodation was concentrated on the mainland. The “Halle Eiffel” and the magnificent interior of the “Cathédrale” now serve as multi-purpose spaces for exhibitions, receptions and other events. In the iconic mill building, which is protected by conservation order, the two upper floors were converted to provide a boardroom and other facilities for the directors. On the lower floor, the generators dating from the 1920s were retained as a record of the past.
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