Mizoen Information Point, France: Information point at Mizoën

Mizoen Information Point, France, Architect, Photo, RN91 Building, Image, Design

Mizoen Information Point, France : Photos

Mizoen Architecture – design by Hérault Arnod Architectes

9 Dec 2008

Information point at Mizoën

Date built: 1996

Design: Hérault Arnod Architectes

Mizoen Information Point

The starting point was a sort of misunderstanding: the town wanted to create a tourist information point on the main national highway and was expecting a traditional chalet next to the road. But we, young architects at the time, grasped the opportunity provided by this extraordinary site to do something completely different. In the complexity of its different components, this project, which is one of the studio’s first buildings, is still emblematic of our work on the relationship between architecture and its milieu.

Mizoen Information Point Mizoen Building Mizoen Information Centre

In European landscapes, which have been almost entirely tamed and reconfigured by human beings, the Alps in particular represent one of the few natural areas that are still wild, where you really feel in contact with the elements. In the collective imagination, the mountains remain a place of still possible conquest, a vehicle of dreams and aspirations. Yet there is nothing of virgin nature in the mountains and they carry multiple traces of economic and industrial activity, from the cable cars of the ski resorts to hydroelectric dams, penstock pipes, high-voltage lines, road infrastructures, etc. The scale and power of the natural landscape absorb the human structures, which we eventually stop noticing. Nevertheless, the juxtaposition of technical structures, made of steel or time-smoothed concrete, and nature, can generate intriguing combinations of great beauty, in an aesthetic balance between the environment and the signs of human intervention, blurring the boundaries between nature and culture.

The Information Point project seeks to create a cultural link between two intersecting and superimposed mountain worlds: nature and industry. Its architecture suggests elements of the natural site and the geography, in its materials and layout, and of the industrial history of the Alps in its constructive processes and the technique used to embed it in the rock. The trunk road by which the project stands is bordered on one side by a cliff some about 20 metres high, and on the other side by the Chambon dam lake below. It is an exceptional site, but the plot is too restricted for a building, however small. It is therefore built vertically, in equilibrium between the rock and the drop.This position offers the visitor a unique and protected viewing point over the dam and the mountains.

The Information Point is anchored in the site through being embedded in the rock and through its material, corten steel chosen in reference to the brown colour of certain parts of the rock, produced by the presence of iron oxide. The exterior shell is made of welded sheets of raw corten steel, strengthened on the interior by welded H frames. The project was carried out by an industrial boilerworks company, and the different components were prefabricated in the workshop and assembled in situ in one week. The cabin is held by 20 metre tie rods driven into the rock, the cliff is covered in a steel mesh to protect visitors from falling rocks. The volume, although distinctive in shape, appears to be set into and form part of the mountain.

Information point in Mizoen – Building Information

Location: RN91 – Mizoën (Isère)
Client: SIEPAF (Syndicat Intercommunal d’Etude et de Programmation pour l’Aménagement de la Vallée du Ferrand)
Project management: Hérault Arnod Architectes
Area: Total building floor area: 20 m2 ; Total terrace floor area: 15 square metres
Cost: €107,200 excluding VAT
Timetable: Design 1994 ; Delivered 1995

Photos © André Morin

Information point at Mizoën, France photos / information from Hérault Arnod Architectes Dec 2008

Hérault Arnod Architectes


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