Cosmocité: Where Science and History Unite

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Project Information

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
Architecture: ARCANE Architectes and Cardin Julien

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

Landscape architecture: Atelier Verdance

The vibrant city of Pont-de-Claix, nestled in the heart of Isère, France, has welcomed a new landmark that seamlessly weaves together the threads of history and science. Cosmocité, a contemporary masterpiece created by the architectural consortium of ARCANE Architectes and Cardin Julien, stands tall on the Grands Moulins de Villancourt heritage site. This architectural marvel is not just a building; it’s a tribute to the industrial legacy of the region and a portal to the cosmos.

Bold Design and Cultural Significance

Cosmocité‘s design, born from the creative minds of architects Jean-Yves Guibourdenche and Jean-François Julien, embodies the essence of a modern museum. Collaborating closely with scenographer CREO, La Casemate, and the scientific community, the creators of Cosmocité have breathed life into a vision that blends the past with the future.

The Grands Moulins de Villancourt site, once a cornerstone of industrial heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries, now finds its memory preserved in the form of this striking building. Situated at the northern entrance of Pont-de-Claix, Cosmocité has become the cultural cornerstone of the city’s urban renewal.

An Architectural Symphony

The architects, in their pursuit of perfection, have left no stone unturned. They meticulously designed Cosmocité to combine the industrial history of the region with a contemporary focus on science. The building consists of two volumes – a translucent, glossy white structure housing passageways, and a matte, opaque black volume dedicated to the dissemination of scientific content.

The black volume, with its monolithic and enigmatic quality, beckons visitors to contemplate the mysteries of the universe and humanity’s place within it. Inside, corridors bathed in natural light provide captivating views of the surrounding landscape. The architectural design sends a clear message: science is welcoming and open to all.

Discovering Cosmocité

Cosmocité is home to a plethora of exciting attractions, including an 80-seat planetarium with a stargazing simulator. This immersive experience introduces both school and family audiences to the wonders of astronomy and space science. The permanent tour offers insights into “EARTH” and “COSMOS,” presented in an interactive 3D room with floor and wall screens.

One of the most captivating features is the 14-meter-high Foucault pendulum, gracefully spanning the building to illustrate the Earth’s rotation. With additional facilities for administration, logistics, and more, Cosmocité is designed to welcome around 57,000 visitors annually, including 20,000 eager school children.

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An Environmentally Conscious Design

Cosmocité’s design is not just aesthetically pleasing; it’s also environmentally conscious. The architects have balanced the building’s west-facing garden with the eastern forecourt, making the most of natural light and energy. Glazed hallways and staircases capture solar energy while maintaining thermal comfort, and a double-flow system ensures air quality.

Energy efficiency is a primary concern, achieved through a compact construction and a high-performance envelope. The building’s structure, insulated from the outside, eliminates thermal bridges and the risk of condensation. Heating and cooling are provided by district heating and heat pumps, respectively, contributing to sustainability.

Embracing the Outdoors

Cosmocité doesn’t just stand alone; it embraces its surroundings. To the east, an urban stone forecourt invites visitors, while to the west, a garden and an outdoor amphitheater form a buffer zone between the building and the parking lots. A century-old cedar tree to the south serves as a reminder of the city’s ever-renewing spirit.

In the heart of Pont-de-Claix, Cosmocité represents not only the evolution of science and architecture but also the preservation of history. It is a place where the past, present, and future converge, inviting everyone to explore the mysteries of the cosmos. Cosmocité is more than a building; it’s a journey waiting to be embarked upon.

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