Solar Powered International Design Center Unveiled


Situated in an defunct arms manufacturing facility in Saint-Etienne, the recently unveiled ‘Cité du Design‘ is a stunning international center for design.

Designed by Berlin and Paris based LIN, the ‘Centre International du Design’ is a new institution for communication, research and education in design. The project is situated on the historic site of the National Arms Manufacture in St. Etienne. Powered by solar energy and supplemented by an efficient heating system, the energy efficient ‘Cité du Design’ is a world class design center that lives up to its name.

Designed LIN, the €41.5 million Cité du Design just opened at the beginning of October. Inside the complex are auditoriums, meeting rooms, exhibition space, a media library, and indoor gardens with an observation tower located alongside the long hall.

It involves the renovation of several historic buildings, as well as the integration of a new building the ‘platine’ (200 x32 m), an observation tower (31m high), two gardens and the P’lace d’Armes’, a public esplanade.


The ‘platine’ is an interclimatic laboratory whose adaptive skin is enveloping several programs as an exhibition spaces, an auditorium, the ‘agora’, a greenhouse and a media- and material library. It is reacting on their different needs in terms of light and climate. It is also an expression of the different activities in the ‘Cité du Design’.

A latticed 3D structure forms the walls and roof of the complex, and the interior of the hall is left open without any supports or beams to get in the way.


The center is very energy efficient and utilizes a heat exchange and recovery system to reduce energy used for heating. Pre-conditioned air from the internal gardens, which are not heated, is drawn into the system to heat the nearby rooms.


The skin of the building is composed up of 14,000 equilateral triangles made from different materials that help to control light, temperature and air flow according to environmental conditions. Some of these triangles are actually photovoltaic cells used to generate power for use in the building.


More pictures:

Project status: International competition, 1st prize, realisation
Site: Saint-Etienne, Loire, France
Client: Saint-Etienne Metropole
Team: Architects: LIN Finn Geipel + Giulia Andi, Berlin/Paris
Surface net: 17 250 m²
Dates: competition 2004, realisation 2006 to 2009
Costs: 41,5 Mio €

23 Responses to “Solar Powered International Design Center Unveiled”

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