ANMA in 2011-2012
1 Creative Director
23 Construction sites ongoing
10 years of practice in urban planning and architecture
ANMA-Agence Nicolas Michelin & Associés (Nicolas Michelin, Michel Delplace and Cyril Trétout) is one of France’s largest Architecture, Urban Planning and Design practices. Founded in 2000 by Nicolas Michelin, the practice works on and for the built environment. We design sparing contextual, economical and ecological structures and urban plans which establish a relationship with place; they meld and sublime the landscape, and anticipate the needs of their users and inhabitants
A Limited Company based in the 10th arrondissement in central Paris the practice employs 120 people. It is structured into Architecture, Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture departments; a separate office of 40 people is situated next to the site of the future Ministry of Defense building designed by the practice in the south west of Paris.
ANMA proposes city building and place-making which looks after the happiness and wellbeing of the planet as well as the lives and livelihoods of today’s urban dwellers. Ongoing observation of the city has taught us to distinguish the hidden importance, the significant ordinary and the elements of context at play, studies of which furthers the analyses and choices we make in our urban and architectural studies. Our research programme is rigorous, and our practice is informed by the convictions and thinking of Nicolas Michelin and his parters and thanks to our ongoing experience An urban master plan is a guide map that will know how to adapt to circumstances over time allowing for the organic creation of place, not just the generic construction of space. Our architecture also follows this notion of a guide map, but serves as a map for living and appropriating space. Our architecture is not prescriptive and develops spaces which encourage new ways of living, on one hand through the development of new types of space which serve as new spaces for conviviality, but also through designing of ecological spaces which integrate techniques for the use of natural energy sources. Although these technical innovations are systematic, every one of our projects is different and it is this custom-made approach that qualifies our production.
Today we spend more time in our workplaces than in our homes and these spaces radically affect the way we interact with our colleagues and our levels of productivity. Architectural quality is crucial to avoiding monotony, and a focus on efficient lay-outs, and structures which take into consideration new ways of working and encourage productivity are the norm. Gardens, terracing and natural cooling combine to create calm, comfortable and light work places. The new ministry of Defense, to be built by the practice in the south-west of Paris from 2012 is a good example of this, a “ground-scraper” of 140,000 m2, the design features courtyard gardens throughout the building’s core as well as various zones for the convivial interaction of its users. Despite the security imperatives of such a structure and its stately nature, its users will enjoy the calm of gardens, the comfort of natural ventilation and abundant natural light. ANMA’s tertiary structures are not only for work, but for interaction, enjoyment, reflection and engagement.
Our cultural and leisure spaces insert seamlessly into the urban landscape while providing unique spaces and context-inspired and contemporary architectural gestures. Designed around the functions of the building as well as the inherent qualities of site and context, architecture does not dominate, but unleashes, encourages and underscores the pleasures of artistic creation and performance. The Piscine theatre at Châtenay-Malabry not only provides a wooden shell providing a warm and atmospheric performance space, but surprises the spectator with its retractable roof with sunlight streaming onto the stage during summertime performances. Artistic creation must be allowed to happen, it cannot be dominated by its venue; it must be sublimated.
Anticipating the future, engaging with the past, and enriching the lives of the occupants and the urban environment underpin our housing designs. New developments which are out of scale and out of keeping with their context remove inhabitants from the places in which they live. We however refuse to break with the past but decide to underline and build upon it while remaining faithful to the principles of urban and dense living, both as a vector for social interaction and social harmony, but above all for urban sustainability. Density and mixed use designs shorten commuting times and allow the emergence of 24 hour street life, and encourages new ways of living. Our new housing is HQE – Haute Qualité Environnementale – or LEED certified, thanks to passive energy saving technologies as well as new types of energy saving spaces.
ANMA has deployed significant expertise in the development of campuses, teaching buildings, libraries and schools. From finely tuned buildings for young children ( Creteil’s Childhood centre) to city centre campuses (Nancy’s ARTEM project) and the renovation and rehabilitation of a National Library (Strasburg) the complexities of creating indoor and outside spaces for better learning is one of our key strengths. Not only does this require an understanding of the social and physical context of the city in which the teaching structure is situated, it requires an understanding of the evolution of a structure’s needs over time. Flexibile and feather-light structures characterize these spaces, proving an understanding of the limitations of public-sector budgets, but of the necessity for these spaces to adapt to evolving developments in teaching, learning and technology.
Masterplanning, Urban Design & Public Space
Our urban planning and design work is better termed as “Urbanism” based on the French term which defines the discipline; it clearly expresses both the discipline and our profession more accurately than the English “Urban Planner”. Our approach is interdisciplinary and multi-scale; we work on cities as whole and complex entities, not as piecemeal parts or entities thus going beyond the simple practice of planning. ANMA works from the human scale to the district scale, using analytical tools to understand how public spaces, structures, blocks and districts must be considered together. From the development of a new public square, to the development of walking and cycling in our Masterplans in Bordeaux or Dunkirk, the minutiae of urban life inspires us to plan cities as convivial, mixed and functional wholes.