le mirail: architectural institutions

One of the mainstays in Toulouse le Mirail’s commercial existence the University of Toulouse le Mirail, which brings over 30 000 students into the northernmost neighborhood (le Mirail) almost every day during the school year. As these students are from relatively diverse economic backgrounds, they support a commercial area around the metro station near the school.

The metro, which I will discuss more later, brought a lot of activity into the region, rescuing the neighborhoods from complete despair. But its effect on the university developed an interesting (and not so positive) twist, according to architect and professor Remi Papillault, who works in le Mirail, teaches at the university and has conducted many studies on the area. Because students can now get to the center of Toulouse in only 10 minutes, there is far less incentive for them to stay near the university. While once they studied and lived here, now they just study, and instead rent apartments in the city center. Their freedom has changed the commercial offerings in the area, which are almost exclusively daytime venues.

university plan

source:

Stéfanie Gruet, Rémi Papillault, Le Mirail : mémoire d’une ville : histoire vécue du Mirail de sa conception à nos jours, (Toulouse, France: Éd. Poïésis-AERA, DL, 2008), 138.

bird’s eye view

source:

Stéfanie Gruet, Rémi Papillault, Le Mirail : mémoire d’une ville : histoire vécue du Mirail de sa conception à nos jours, (Toulouse, France: Éd. Poïésis-AERA, DL, 2008), 138.

Tectonically and spatially the university, and its nearby architecture school, are quite interesting. The university is conceived to be somewhat reminiscent of a medina, and its car-sized hallway network extends through all the buildings, enclosing doorways and surrounding well hidden courtyards.

university of toulouse le mirail, architecture school

source:

Stéfanie Gruet, Rémi Papillault, Le Mirail : mémoire d’une ville : histoire vécue du Mirail de sa conception à nos jours, (Toulouse, France: Éd. Poïésis-AERA, DL, 2008)

The architecture school operates with a similar, though more complex structure. Filled with ample communal space (the building was designed in 1969), its post and beam structure intends to allow moveable partitions to be easily removed or added, should the need arise. This skeleton extends even outside the mostly daylight building, dissolving into the green park space that separates the architects from the rest of their university colleagues.

Many thanks to Vanessa Fernandez, a professor of architecture at University Toulouse le Mirail, for organizing meetings for me and taking me around the campus!

One thought on “le mirail: architectural institutions

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