Location: Montpellier, France.

Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects.

The pierresvives building for the department de l’Herault is the unification of three institutions – the archive, library and sports department – within a single envelope. The design is reminiscent of a large tree-trunk that has been laid horizontally. The front of the building contains all the public functions of each institution, linked by a linear lobby with an exhibition space in the centre. On arrival at the main entrance, visitors are directed to the educational spaces of the archives on ground level or via lifts and escalators to the main public artery on level one. The auditorium and meeting rooms form the primary central volume of the grand cantilevering canopy above the entrance.

Photo credit: Helene Binet.