Val-Notre-Dame medical and surgical Center

  • Bezons, France
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Cruising speed: zero


Extension of a private clinic in the suburb: a neo- functionalist cube covered with dressed stones amidst houses, garages and public housing units, all scattered. An outline and a site strictly dictated by local regulations.

A recommended technology (the curtain wall) to regain a net floor area of 50 m².

This extension had every chance to be a new cubic building, this time in woven glass panels.


The building was born from an interrogation on its function, on the attitude to adopt with respect to the district. On its function:

It is a “hotel”, a hotel of a specific nature but nevertheless a hotel.

People do come here for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks at the maximum; a few hours for dialyzed people who have to purify their blood regularly; a few days for future mothers or people who had their appendix removed; a few weeks for those who are here under “heavy” surgery.

The created building must be reassuring: it must be “clean” and modern – in the popular meaning.


In addition, it should express the idea that one will stay there for a short time, that it is only for a short moment. Hence the idea of treating the building like a place to pass through, a place of temporary encounters, like in a hotel, a boat or a train.

The patients are the passengers on a short trip.

Everything indicates that they are here temporarily.

Hence the use of a vocabulary reminiscent of a journey by a secure means of communication: a passenger ship, a train.

Outside: the port-holes, the masts, the footbridges, the rails, the chimney are the symbols of a ship; the lengthened windows and the fine horizontal aluminium boarding are reminiscent of the Trans Europ Express.

Inside: from doors in fine woodwork to long corridors with curved ceilings, from round oculus to chrome protections from rounded pieces of furniture fixed by large visible screws to the lightings only located above doors, everything is reminiscent of a sleeping car or a boat cabin. Everything in here implies the atmosphere of a short trip. The massive building, its well-known (and no futuristic) technology is reassuring. Everything indicates that in a few days, one will be arrived safe and sound.


In the environing landscape, it is a surprise; a gleaming object in a dull universe. An unexpected collage against an impersonal building. Why? Because such a district can only be made up of an accumulation of petty-events: it is not the unity which can characterize it but the interest of each construction.

This aluminium vessel tells each passer-by about the presence of another universe. It will be anchored in the landscape through vegetation: many window boxes and multiple plant supports will favor its invasion.


On a more architectural level of reading, it is another way to treat the old theme of the passenger ship without piles, rough concrete, established structure, abstraction. On the contrary, it is an accumulation of well-known descriptive elements, perfectly readable as such, (footbridges, port-holes…) which creates an evocation.



Jean Nouvel