Zaha Hadid’s New Building: Like An Infographic Made Of Concrete

You could also say the structure has a giant circuit board vibe, but its inspiration is actually a horizontal tree.

Its facade seems impossible. Delicate glass appears to flow through concrete, suspending it like some David Copperfield special. But the Pierres Vives Building of Montpellier, France, by Zaha Hadid Architects, is real. Some lucky government employees even get to work there.


I think the green glass and gold louver give the structure a giant circuit board vibe, but its inspiration is actually a horizontal tree. At its base (the left) is the archive, which branches into a “more porous” library and sports department, with usable offices finding bits of more light as it grows, just like leaves on the highest branches.

Its pièce de résistance is a curved block that levitates right in the middle of the structure. That’s a shared space that houses an auditorium and meeting rooms. If you’re continuing with the tree metaphor, I guess you might call this a big knot in the trunk.

Of course, the Pierres Vives Building is no more a tree than it is a circuit board. Every bit of its flow is an illusion. In reality, this is 80,000 tons of concrete (otherwise known as Zaha Hadid’s bread and butter), reinforced by 3,000 tons of steel (a figure that sounds downright dwarfed by the concrete, no?). The facade is crafted by 1,000 prefab pieces of concrete and over 16,000 square feet of glass.

I could go on about its practicality–the fact that the building is actually designed at its core to funnel visitors to their proper destinations–or its quirks (the archive actually appears to hold some vintages of wine?), but let’s be honest, no one outside the Montpellier government is looking at this architectural mindplosion caring about usage or practicality. We’re watching it as people watch NASCAR: in a bit of awe at the feat and a bit of terror at the risk.

[Hat tip: Dezeen]


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.