Voltaire Building by Antonini + Darmon Architects

The Voltaire building photographed while still under construction. Multiple stores, rectangle-shaped building, with panoramic windows on each floor.
Designed for the Paris Diderot University and sitting next to the school’s recently renovated (by local architects Nicolas Michelin and Associates) Halle aux Farines teaching halls, this slim and diaphanous building was conceived by Paris-based practice Antonini + Darmon Architects
(Image credit: Luc Boegly)

Designed for the Paris Diderot University (opens in new tab) and sitting next to the school's recently renovated (by local architects Nicolas Michelin & Associates) Halle aux Farines teaching halls, this slim and diaphanous building was designed by Paris-based practice Antonini + Darmon Architects.

The French architects (opens in new tab) won the commission to design the Voltaire Building for the campus' cultural and community programs through an earlier competition proposal and, while thrilled to take on the project, they had to face several challenges. 'The tower is not straight. It presents a small curve on two sides,' they say. 'So with the construction company, we spent a lot of time trying to find a way to build it, to make it look good and not like a defect.'

Completed only a few days ago, the building is also cleverly positioned in relation to its more historical neighbour. The Voltaire Building is fully detached from the Halle aux Farines to ensure the older structure is left secure and undamaged. At the same time the gap created accentuates the tower's slender white form, also promoting an interesting dialogue between the old and the new.

The building is firmly constructed in concrete, yet it has a light and delicate appearance, thanks to a folded, perforated anodized aluminum façade and sleek steel interior details - such as the staircases and ceilings. 'One of our favourite things about this building, is that it changes aspect every minute; you never get the same perception twice, depending on weather, light, time, and season,' says Antonini + Darmon Architects co-founder Tom Damron. The skin plays with the surrounding light, giving it a 'feminine, sensual aspect'.

The Voltaire building photographed while still under construction, from the front. Multiple stores, rectangle-shaped building, with panoramic windows on each floor.

The French architects won the commission to design the Voltaire Building for the campus’ cultural and community programs through an earlier competition proposal

(Image credit: TBC)

A closer look at the corner of the Voltaire building photographed while still under construction. Multiple stores, rectangle-shaped building, with panoramic windows on each floor.

(Image credit: TBC)

A passageway between the Voltaire building and the Halle aux Farines.

The Voltaire Building is fully detached from the Halle aux Farines to ensue the older structure is left secure and undamaged

(Image credit: TBC)

The Voltaire building photographed while still under construction. It sits next to the Halle aux Farines.

At the same time, the gap created accentuates the tower’s slender white form, also promoting an interesting dialogue between the old and the new

(Image credit: TBC)

A completely white, empy room with panoramic windows on all sides.

The design was finalised about a year and a half ago and construction started in august 2010

(Image credit: TBC)

A closer look at the window through which we see buildings outside.

Close-up view of the perforated facade, from the interior

(Image credit: TBC)

A bright area where metal stairwell is situated.

(Image credit: TBC)

A closed terrace with metal construction and panoramic windows at night.

’One of our favourite things about this building, is that it changes aspect every minute; you never get the same perception twice, depending on weather, light, time, and season,’ says Antonini + Darmon Architectes co-founder Tom Damron

(Image credit: TBC)

The Voltaire building photographed from a distance. We see other buildings surrounding it, and a pedestrian bridge.

The skin plays with the surrounding light, giving it a ’feminine, sensual aspect’

(Image credit: TBC)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).