Minimalist science hub added to Grenoble’s Institut Laue-Langevin

Minimalist science hub added to Grenoble’s Institut Laue-Langevin

Institut Laue-Langevin addition by Levitt Bernstein and TKMT architects opens in Grenoble, France

The science hub of Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, has welcomed a new addition, courtesy of London architects Levitt Bernstein and French studio TKMT Architectes. The structure serves as a new visitor centre for the highly advanced, pan-European neutron research facility and brings together access to the institute’s state-of-the-art equipment with space for conferences, bookable labs and healthcare support – all, wrapped up in sleek, minimalist architecture against the visually powerful backdrop of the Alps.

A simple, orthogonal volume, punctuated by a steady rhythm of long openings, forms the main building, while inside, calming, pared-down and elegant spaces were created. Raw concrete blends with crisp white surfaces and timber in the form of bespoke cabinetry – a material palette that emerged from intense research and discussion with the client’s team of scientists. A central, helical concrete staircase unfolds from the ground level and connects the building’s two floors, also providing a sculptural interior centrepiece.

exterior detail of science hub Institut Laue Langevin by Levitt Bernstein

‘We have thoroughly enjoyed the entire process of realising this project, from the initial competition win in 2019 to our close collaboration with TKMT,’ says Levitt Bernstein’s Gary Tidmarsh. ‘ILL had given us an opportunity to create a building constructed from a limited number of materials, specifically selected for an optimised research environment. The visitor centre offers a calm and elegant base to showcase ILL’s innovative work, sitting in contrast to the dramatic skyline of the Alps, which can be viewed by visitors as they move around each new space.’  

Meanwhile, a representative of the institute adds: ‘The new building has completely changed the way we welcome our visitors and employees when they arrive at ILL. The new space is expansive and bright, creating a contemporary and gentle atmosphere. Our own offices are particularly comfortable, with moderate temperatures and incredible views of the mountains beyond.’

Contemporary, minimalist design meets state-of-the-art technology at this brand new visitor centre, making a visit to the ILL science hub a thrilling experience, in more ways than one. §

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