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Catifa and Pix lift people’s spirits
12/4/2014
A breath of fresh air, a new building: The Clignancourt university center in Paris. Photo © agency 11H45

Since May last year, a breath of fresh air has been blowing through the now no longer so hallowed halls of academia. For the “Centre universitaire Clignancourt”, an outpost of the Sorbonne where music, languages and the humanities are taught, Nantes-based architects Gaëlle Peneau have designed a new building ensemble that houses seminar rooms, an auditorium, a library and a sports hall.

Arranged in the shape of a “U”, the buildings with their different colored façades made of translucent polycarbonate panels and glass have an open, transparent feel to them. The sports hall features pale gray panels as frontage, while the seminar building is a gleaming white, the auditorium a symphony in glass and golden brown, and the library’s façade the kind of bright yellow that is bound to lift people’s spirits. Here it is obvious that obstacles are something to be avoided. Even the architecture is an expression of a joie de vivre, an invitation to indulge in the pleasures of learning and studying.

The design concept persists pleasantly inside the buildings. Multi-colored walls and furniture in fresh colors structure the different areas visually, as well. The library also features furniture by Arper. Large seat poufs from the “Pix 87” range in dyed yellow, orange and pink leather form a variety of little seating islands, conveying something of a lounge atmosphere in-between the long rows of books. Being sad just isn’t possible here. This makes the furnishings design here refreshingly different from the functional gray that was standard at universities in past decades. In front of the reading tables, designed by the combined forces of Lievore Altherr Molina stand Arper’s “Catifa 46 – 4 Wood Legs” chairs that are correspondingly chic, comfortable, functional and durable. The curved organic shape of the polypropylene seat shell sits on strong oak legs. And it is more than just a joy to behold. With its delicate lines and soft look, the chair’s simple elegance invites users to linger that little bit longer in the reading room.

A breath of fresh air, a new building: The Clignancourt university center in Paris. Photo © agency 11H45
Islands of colorful greenery: The terraced inner courtyard with brightly colored seating cubes in front of the library entrance. <br/>Photo © agency 11H45
Color refreshes a jaded mind: Yellow, pink and white for the library. Photo © agency 11H45
With their soft shapes, Arper’s “Catifa 46 – 4 Wood Legs” chairs offer optimal support. Photo © agency 11H45
The “Catifa 46 – 4 Wood Legs” chair, here with a brown and white polypropylene seat shell. Photo © Arper
Forget those college blues: Poufs as brightly-colored islands and elegant chairs between the rows of books. <br/>Photo © agency 11H45
The colorful “PIX 87” seat poufs were designed by Ichiro Iwasaki for Arper and, with special covers, can also be used as outdoor furniture. Photo © Arper

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