In Les Ulis, the extension and renovation project densifies the site and, thanks to the introduction of a new cinema multiplex, boosts its “leisure” aspect. The challenge is to reorient the shopping centre towards the town. The centre is located on the border between two different communes and two different contexts. To the north, the town of Les Ulis, which ends at the Town Hall Park. Below, to the south, a large agricultural landscape that extends in panoramic fashion, with, nestled in the centre, the little village of Saint-Jean de Beauregard and the Château de Beauregard, famed for its floral garden. The existing shopping centre is oriented towards this swathe of countryside, which means that its service stations, emergency exits and delivery areas face the town. How can town and country be linked, how can the back of the building be turned into its front, how can an obstacle be transformed into a bond? This is the concept behind our project.
This is not a new problematic; indeed, it is around this issue that the French art of gardens developed in the 17th century. Le Nôtre delivered many examples of this art in his various projects, including, of course, the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.
A respect for the axis, which is carefully and majestically highlighted, is key to this approach. The project creates a large “mall” – “mall”, with the word to be understood in its original sense as a planted alley, – linking the Town Hall Park and the plain of Saint-Jean de Beauregard. The shopping centre becomes a threshold between the city and the country.
Wood is heavily featured. The complex is covered in timber cladding, while inside the new mall, the metaphor of the “tree-lined avenue” is highlighted by the architectural treatment of the weight-bearing posts, whose visual aspect is reminiscent of a regularly planted line of trees. In order to fully play its role as an “urban window”, the mall linking Les Ulis to Saint-Jean de Beauregard presents two facades entirely in glass at each end, providing unbroken views of the distant landscape. On the extension’s terraces, which are dedicated to leisure activities, and on which are to be found both the entrance to the cinema multiplex and a series of restaurants, there is a hanging vegetable garden, echoing the one in the Château de Beauregard.