The Centre de sciences Cosmocité

Photo credit: Nicolas Trouillard

The architectural consortium, made up of ARCANE Architectes (France) and Cardin Julien (Canada), has unveiled the new Centre de sciences Cosmocité, which was built on the Grands Moulins de Villancourt heritage site in Pont-de-Claix, Isère (France).

The building features a bold design which was conceived by architects Jean-Yves Guibourdenche and Jean-François Julien. It is in line with the museum concept developed by scenographer CREO, in collaboration with La Casemate and the scientific community.

Cosmocité also aims to preserve the memory of the Grands Moulins de Villancourt site, which was an important part of the industrial and human heritage of the urban agglomeration as well as the municipalities of Echirolles and Pont-de-Claix in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Photo credit: Nicolas Trouillard

Cosmocité is the cultural cornerstone of Ville de Pont-de-Claix’s urban renewal as its location is at the municipality’s northern entrance.

Replicating the precise placement layout of the demolished building, which couldn’t be reused, the architects devised an arrangement of volumes that connect the area’s industrial past, represented by the white volume, with the contemporary scientific emphasis of the new institution embodied by the black volume.

The shiny, translucent white volume accommodates the passageways and their associated spaces, while the matte, opaque black volume contains all areas devoted to presenting scientific content: the planetarium, immersive room, and permanent exhibition hall. Evoking the mysteries of the universe and humankind’s place in the cosmos, the black volume’s dark and myserious quality invites observers to contemplate its scale and reflect on its infinite expanse.

Photo credit: Nicolas Trouillard

The vertical and horizontal corridors inside are bathed in natural light, and provide views of the surrounding landscape, while the volumetric design reflects the building’s function as well as contributes to the site’s global message: science that’s welcoming to everyone.

Cosmocité houses an 80-seat planetarium, equipped with a stargazing simulator, a permanent tour based on two themes: “eartg” and “cosmos,” a 14-metre-high Foucault pendulum, a variable activity space, additional facilities including reception, services, administration, and logistics and a roof terrace overlooking the Grenoble basin and its surrounding mountains. The facility is also designed to welcome roughly 57,000 visitors annually, including 20,000 school children.

The planetarium is circular and inclined at 10° and the space can be accessed by a vision adaptation waiting area and an acoustic airlock. It has a capacity of 80, including four for people with reduced mobility. It is also equipped with reclining seats, provides a 360° view of a semi-spherical screen and is lined with a circular technical gallery and a data centre.

Photo credit: Nicolas Trouillard

The architectural team called on the Montreal-based digital studio CREO to create the Cosmocité scenography. As a result, CREO put together a multidisciplinary design team, who worked with the project’s Grenoble-based scientific committee and the Centre de Culture Scientifique, Technique et Industrielle de Grenoble.

Cosmocité’s highly interactive exhibition is designed to answer fundamental questions about the earth. A 14-metre-high Foucault pendulum spans the building to demonstrate the Earth’s rotation.

The building has also been designed to balance the space of the west-facing garden with that of the eastern forecourt. The hall and staircase are glazed in order to capture free energy from the sun as well as to encourage the public to use the staircase. This solar energy, however, is controlled by screen-printed glass to prevent overheating.

Photo credit: Nicolas Trouillard

The acoustics have also been carefully studied to avoid any sound transfer between spaces. Summer thermal comfort is ensured by a heat inert cement structure, efficient solar protection and openings for natural ventilation. Air quality is ensured by a double-flow system, with adapted flow rates and filters.

In terms of energy efficiency, it is primarily about reducing the building’s thermal requirements, which is made possible by a compact construction and a high-performance envelope.

The building’s main structure is in reinforced concrete, which is insulated from the outside. Heating is provided by a district heating system, and cooling by way of heat pumps.

Photo credit: Nicolas Trouillard

An urban stone forecourt to the east of the building overlooks Cours Saint-André and accommodates the flow of visitors. A garden and its outdoor amphithéâtre are located to the west and form a buffer zone between the parking lots and the Centre de sciences. To the south, there is a a conserved hundred-year-old cedar tree.


Technical sheet
Project name: Cosmocité
Location: Le Pont-de-Claix, Grenoble, France
Client: Grenoble Alpes Métropole
Direction/cultural and scientific programming: La Casemate
Scientific curator: UGA / CNRS / OSUG
Year of completion: 2023
Floor area: 2 114 m²
Construction cost: 6 732 000 € HT

ARCANE Architectes and Cardin Julien

Mechanical-electrical engineering: CET Bâtiment & Energie [AK1] [ÉP2]
Structural and economy: BETREC I.G

Landscape architecture:
Atelier Verdance

François Tourny (engineer)

Immersive room and Planetarium: RSA Cosmos / Theoriz
Environmental quality: Etamine
Road works and various networks: MTM Infra
Acoustics: Echologos

A.C.G.P. CACI, Biming, BIOTOPE, BOA, CBMA, CISEPZ, CANCÉ, CIOLFI, DECOTECH, EGT, ELTS, FEDD, Globocess AG, Groupe Eode, INEO, Ingérop, IRELEM, Isère Aménagement, Kaléo, Laye, Maq2, Pélissard, PVI, RTE Dauphiné, Schindler, Sinequanon’, SMAC, SOCOTEC, Terideal, TDMI

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