RATP Building by Stéphane Maupin 17.08.11


The RATP Building – a maintenance station for the company that maintains the Paris Metro, bus and tramlines – is nicknamed the "Helicopter Building", after the blade-like installation on the roof. This three-rotor crown is covered in solar panels and is supposed to symbolise the company's commitment to the environment, but the message it seems to project is that, when faced with public transport, helicopters are the only way to travel.

Architect Stéphane Maupin compares the structure to "the head of a submarine bursting through the ice", and the building does indeed look like a Trident that has just surfaced through the concrete of this industrial area at Porte de la Villette on the north-eastern edge of Paris. With its streamlined shape, cantilevered protrusions and wraparound balcony, it resembles a battleship's observation tower. The facade is covered in porthole windows that accentuate the nautical theme and the orange caution stripes around the base, which in early models cover the whole building, suggest Norman Wilkinson's Dazzle ship designs.

The pie-shaped structure, which nods to James Stirling's No 1 Poultry, occupies a triangular site wedged in by an elevated highway, train tracks, factories and social housing. Maupin describes his HQ for the maintenance teams that keep Paris on the move as a "workers' palace". A grand, fluorescent orange staircase lined with subway tiles rises from an entrance that resembles a Monopoly house (Maupin acknowledges the influence of Herzog & de Meuron) and cuts through the six floors of the building. This playful, bold use of neon continues in the interior of the building with, for example, large circles of colour framing the washbasins in the second-floor locker rooms. The top floor houses a restaurant with a spacious terrace that offers views towards the Périphérique.



Cécile Septet



Christopher Turner

quotes story

The class divider is decorated with dotted chains that are supposed to represent a bead curtain

Leave a comment

Click to show