Laherrere Center: Pau’s Sustainable Architectural Marvel

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Project details

Client: Pau Bearn Habitat

Design team: CoBe Architecture et Paysage (main architect)
WEEK (partner architect)
AIA (main engineer)
Gamba (acoustic engineer)

Program: Construction of two mixed buildings – East Building: Student residence of 116 rooms and young workers hostel of 60 rooms with shared common spaces and administrative premises (5050m2), restaurant (138m2), police station (202m2), cooking school with training restaurant (596m2), multipurpose room (234m2)
West Building: Office floors, coworking and professional training areas (3174m2), 5 craft premises (855m2), bakery (134m2), restaurant (154m2), services (562m2)

Missions CoBe: Architectural and landscape design, interior design, furniture prescription, building site management

Surface: 11 206m2
Completion: February 2023
Cos: 18 M€ HT

Photo credits: Luc Boegly

In the heart of Pau, France, a remarkable architectural endeavor is taking shape – the Laherrere Center. This visionary project is not just about constructing two office buildings; it’s a vibrant tapestry woven with elements of life, work, professional training, and economic development. As we delve into the essence of this architectural marvel, we’ll focus on the brilliant minds behind it and the design concept that underpins its significance.

Architectural Ingenuity

Creating a Sustainable Legacy

The Laherrere Center stands as a testament to sustainable development. It seamlessly integrates bioclimatic design, bio-based materials, and energy performance. This harmonious blend of elements ensures that the center not only serves its immediate purpose but also contributes to a greener, more sustainable future.

Changing the Urban Landscape

Situated in the Saragosse district, the Laherrere Center is a pivotal part of the urban renewal program. It’s not just about constructing two buildings; it’s about revitalizing an entire district. One building addresses the housing shortage for students and young workers, while the other caters to companies and associations, focusing on employment integration, with ground-floor services and shops.

Design Concept

Living in the Square

The core idea behind the Laherrere Center is to create a living space akin to a village square. Picture a bustling market, and you’re in the right frame of mind. Two L-shaped buildings, firmly rooted in Laherrere Square, boast a uniform aesthetic, featuring wood and concrete as their defining materials.

Mixed Program for Diverse Needs

The architectural brilliance of the Laherrere Center lies in its adaptability. The post and beam construction system allows it to accommodate a wide array of programs within the same project. This flexibility ensures that the center can evolve to meet changing needs over time.

The complex houses:

  • Housing Hub: 116 student housing units and 60 housing units for young workers, fostering a sense of community with shared common spaces.
  • Entrepreneurial Hub: Office and coworking spaces utilized by associations, professional training structures, and business support entities. This includes a training restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx and spaces for crafts.
  • Local Services and Shops: Essential services like a police station, employment-related services, concierge, breweries, and craft-related sales spaces. A multipurpose room adds to the community spirit.

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Quality of Life

The success of the Laherrere Center hinges on its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for its residents. Common living spaces are thoughtfully shared between the housing programs, fostering a sense of togetherness. From shared entrance halls to furnished landings and coworking spaces, the center encourages interaction and community building.

The housing units are designed to cater to a wide range of individuals, from young professionals to job seekers. The diversity in accommodations allows people to live alone, as couples, or in shared spaces. This inclusivity is a cornerstone of the Laherrere Center’s design.


The Laherrere Center isn’t just a pair of buildings; it’s a symbol of architectural innovation, sustainability, and community spirit. As it takes its place in the urban landscape of Pau, France, it stands as a beacon of excellence, enriching the lives of its residents and contributing to the renewal of the Saragosse district. This architectural gem serves as a testament to the power of design to transform not just spaces, but entire communities.

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