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Head office of the Law Society

The Maison des Avocats ( the head office of the Law Society in Paris) is part of the new Judicial Headquarters, a group of buildings designed specifically for the legal profession and currently under construction in the 17th arrondissement in Paris, in the Clichy Batignolles neighbourhood. The other buildings include the new Courthouse, again designed by RPBW and the Regional Headquarters of the Judicial Police. The area also includes the Martin Luther King park, a green area for the city and space for relaxing. It is also a meeting point where the paths crossing the site converge: a pedestrian area that will liven up the urban activity.

Three key ideas lie behind the designing of this building. The first one is transparency - a symbolic value for the institutions responsible for administering justice. The MOdA building encompasses and conveys this message: thanks to its fully transparent façade, the building's architecture reveals all. The stairway, library, the salle des marchés (the room where all the financial-economic activities take place) and assembly room: behind the façade, the entire life of the building is clearly visible from the outside.

The second idea concerns the building's context: its main façade faces the atrium in front of the courtrooms and creates a square, completing the Martin Luther King park, where the building's surfaces blend in with the newly planted trees as well as those that are fully grown. The third key idea which is inseparable from the first two, is functionality. The Maison des Avocats will become the main site in Paris for professionals. The new building houses a 170-seat auditorium, a library, the administrative bodies and offices of the Law Society, the CARPA offices (fund for lawyers' pecuniary payments), board room and president of the Law Society's office. The layout of the various offices inside this space was strongly influenced by the desire to make them easily accessible. The materials used, steel and raw reinforced cement can be found everywhere, in some cases with a touch of warmth from the colours of furnishings like red, yellow and dusty blue. The first aspect Franck Franjou had to take into consideration when fine tuning the artificial lighting was its relationship with natural light and the outside. One particular challenge was essentially achieving indirect lighting, highlighting the architectural quality of the cement ceilings and using minimalist lighting systems which almost invisibly blend into the overall vision of the building. Only the flow areas not visible from the outside and the staircases receive direct lighting as do the offices, whose unusualness lies in the use of a table lamp specifically designed to light up only the work area.

iGuzzini contributed by providing industrially manufactured products, but above all, by creating certain special products. The two main ones were, firstly, a lightweight horizontal suspended light which gives off light both top and bottom. The purpose of this piece of lighting was not only to provide general lighting to the rooms but also to disguise itself, taking back stage in these extremely minimalist, highly industrial surroundings. The light given off from the top is used to highlight the unevenness of the cement, as well as completing the direct light given off by these lights. The same shapes devised for the suspension light were developed with specific installation solutions, to create table lamps that provide a "task light" for those working at desks. The colour temperature selected was 3000 K and overall precedence was given to vast optics to maintain a feeling of general diffused lighting typically found during the day, and to guarantee that feeling of transparency even into the evening, which is the main feature of the project. The Le Perroquet suspension lights are repeated in a large number of rooms, from the auditorium to the cafeteria area, to the assembly rooms as well as in offices along with the special suspension light. A special hooking system was created for the Laser Blade Wall Washer on the sheet metal structure of the panels that make up the bookcase: this way the lights guarantee an even, vertical illumination. The Laser Blade General Lighting recesses were used along the corridors and through areas.

One of the project's challenges was the use of cement: specific installation solutions were devised for all the recesses as well as the applications with base for the Le Perroquet. All the outer casings for the recesses were delivered well in advance of the lights being fitted.

Outside, the building's roof terrace facing the Courthouse is lit by Linealuce, recessed into the wooden paving which projects the light given off onto the glass balustrade. At night, the building looks like a genuine lantern where the light is generated from the heart of the building and appears to tail off onto the facades, highlighting transparency and beauty.

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  • Year
  • Client
    Ordre des Avocats de Paris
  • Architectural project:
    Renzo Piano Building Workshop
  • Lighting project:
    Franck Franjou
  • Photographer
    Didier Boy de la Tour

Project Quote

"This project is exceptional for a number of different reasons, for the architectural project, its clarity and location at the foot of the Paris Courthouse. As a result, the lighting also had to be exceptional but I do not believe "exceptional" light exists and the architectural project must be provided with it in order for each of its qualities to shine through. So, we worked in close contact with RPBW and iGuzzini to achieve this objective."

Franck Franjou

Products Used: