Fuente: Baumschlager Eberle
Fotografía: archphoto, inc © be baumschlager eberle
Concerning urbanistic planning, the law courts of Caen redefines a new domain in the centre of the City. It comes with a quadratic shape which comprises several duties and responsibilities: The cube underlines by its form the importance of jurisdiction by the means of architecture. The fundamental necessity of justice and the elementary methods of architecture correspond with each other as is a long tradition in Europe. The cube also puts an accent very clearly to the location where it is placed and the surrounding. The building constitutes with its public areas a self-confident district within an area which is under development now.
The shape of the building agrees not only with the tradition but of course with the more complex duties of law courts in the 21st century. An orthogonal pattern constitutes the base for the organisation of the needs of the law courts. The main rooms are adjacent to the facades; the corridors throughout the building always end at the facades. This results in good lighting, and a comfortable working area is provided. But this pattern involves more than a pragmatic and optimized organisation of the building – it involves an experience of interior space. From the main entrance, there is an axis leading directly to the middle of the building. This circular center spans all 5 floors; it is the heart of the law courts, a landmark and also a parameter for the interior area. A horizontal pendant to this vertical elevation depicts the first floor where the court rooms are positioned. The floor accommodates the two storey high court rooms but it is also surrounded by an external and comfortable layer for the attending audience of the court. This layer is completely glazed and provides a direct view to the entrances of the interior court rooms. At night it seems this public area is floating above the ground, at day the prominence of this storey is also accented by the interruption of the facades.
In so doing, the new law courts of Caen in Northern France communicate a message to its users and passer-byes: It is the message of transparency, of a stringent shape and essential architectural means. Therefore it is not so far away from what a European civilisation expects from jurisdiction. But our civilisation today expects even more from a building – it should simply add to the longevity of our world. The buildings sustainable strategy at Caen is driven by two axis: the project offers both high comfort to the users and optimal energy performance. The passive and active strategies ensure the building to achieve low energy consumption: a very compact volume, a doubleskin façade system and a bioclimatic atrium helps to reduce heat loss while increasing thermal inertia; geothermal heat pump brings both heating and cooling by using renewable energy. Materials were selected for their sanitary qualities and low impact on the environment. Rainwater harvesting, natural ventilation of the waiting hall and a global bioclimatic conception are many elements which will help the building to reach this sustainable challenge.