LAN

THE ARCHITECTURE AGENCY LAN (LOCAL ARCHITECTURE NETWORK), THAT WAS FOUNDED IN 2002 BY BENOIT JALLON AND UMBERTO NAPOLITANO AND THAT HAS WON MANY PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS, IS CURRENTLY IN CHARGE OF THE RENOVATION OF THE GRAND PALAIS AND IS DESIGNING THE URBAN PROJECT OF THE ÎLE DE NANTES AMONG OTHER PROJECTS, HAS JUST MOVED ITS OFFICES TO THE TOP FLOORS OF A FORMER PARKING GARAGE IN THE 11TH ARRONDISSEMENT OF PARIS. THIS COLLECTIVE, FLEXIBLE AND INNOVATIVE SPACE, OPENING OUTWARD ONTO THE CITY, QUESTIONS THE VERY IDEA OF THE WORKPLACE.

In the new offices that LAN designed and conceived, one’s first impression is of an immediate openness. Streamlining spaces, letting light in, breaking down the division of inside/outside, and reinventing the way they work are the most obvious guiding principles. The 500-square-meter agency occupies the fourth and fifth floors of the building and is topped by a flat roof. A great deal of attention has been paid to the layout of work spaces, thus questioning the boundary between formal and informal. The fourth floor houses the open space, and the fifth floor is reserved for collective work and shared spaces. The K-fête serves as a gathering place between the two floors. Here, the agency is tackling a contemporary problem: building cities upwards rather than outwards, or how to increase the density of existing buildings with lightweight and prefabricated structures. LAN has delivered a stylish design with this airy, sustainable vertical extension, with an ingenious minimal structure that addresses aesthetic, functional and ecological concerns. For the interior design, the ergonomics of the furniture was carefully considered. The furniture was custom designed to suit the different workstations. For the seating, LAN chose icons from the history of design – such as the Thonet 209 chair, the Eames Wire Chair, or Michel Gascoin’s C-chair. The K-fête is adorned with traditional Japanese fabrics inspired by boro, a patchwork of fabrics patched and sewn from generation to generation, between the 18th and 20th centuries by fishermen and farmers in northeast Japan. Photographs by Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda are displayed on the agency’s walls. Wood, concrete and marble punctuate this unique contemporary atmosphere. The perversive exterior is a fundamental part of the project. The peristyle surrounding the patio is crowned by a flat roof and a suspended garden. It houses beehives and a vegetable garden with aromatic herbs used by the Italian chef Rosa Vanina when she comes to cook for all the employees once a week. These outdoor spaces offer a spectacular view over Paris, and this opening onto the city is a hallmark of the agency’s philosophy, which is resolutely committed to the challenges of its time.