L'archipel tonique, ENS Paris Saclay

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L'archipel tonique, ENS Paris Saclay


Tonic archipelago, islands of generosity and comfort

Public commission within the frame of the artistic 1% at the ENS Paris-Saclay

Architecture:  Renzo Piano Building Workshop 

When entering the ENS Paris-Saclay 

Saclay’s atrium, which was realised by Renzo Piano, the first image that comes to mind is that of a liquid space. The colour and fluidity of orange resin flood the entire space, directing the gaze from floor to ceiling. My project consists of different islands forming an archipelago: an ensemble of designed units relatively close to one another. Archipelagos are used in geography to refer to specific modes of appropriating the space between elements that are isolated, yet maintaining important if not primordial links with one another. Islands bring a sense of centrality into the otherwise long parallelepiped, which the atrium is.

Centrality is meant here as a willingness to bring the community together, by creating structures that foster relationships. The project thus offers different registers of centrality within the atrium. The designed islands respond to different temporalities, typologies of comfort, and ways of being together.

Their structures unfold complementary life scenarios.

This overall artistic installation is dynamic: it moves, it can be arranged in different ways to follow the school’s programme and further mark important or specific events. The possibilities for variation are infinite.

All the units have been conceived on the same basic form: a loop borrowed from the graphic language of the archipelago, here declined to get different structures.

This project takes place within the frame of four artistic commissions: Jean-Marie Appriou, Charles de Meaux, Tobias Pils, besides matali crasset.


ENS Paris-Saclay for the artistic 1%

Contractor: matali crasset,

matali crasset productions assisted by Florian Bédé, Francis Fichot
Associate contractor: Marianne Homiridis, Bureau des Projets

Metal structure, carpentry: Art project
Sitting furniture: Mac Mobilier
Saddlery: Sherpa 


ENS École nationale supérieure Paris-Saclay

4 avenue des Sciences

91190 Gif-sur-Yvette



  • Philippe Piron