Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières founded XTU, a Paris based architectural firm, in 2000. From the company’s inception, Anouk and Nicolas built a team of designers and architects who had one mission: to build projects that make sense, not just to the people who will use them but also to the environment.
While most of its flagship projects are in France, XTU has spread its wings to leave a mark in various countries, including Korea, China, Singapore, Madagascar, the USA, Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, and Morocco.
Some of the high-profile projects that have drawn attention to the talent of XTU architects include the French Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo (voted Best Architecture Pavilion). This pavilion merged two themes; showcasing France’s innovations in timber construction and the Expo’s central theme: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.
In a bid to make their building unique and make sure their signature buildings stand out, XTU architecture obtained three technological patents; two for bio facades (one in partnership with CNRS) and another for vegetal concrete.
Maid office, located at Reunion Island, is a unique building because the design takes into account the ocean and land. While the site is ideal for its aesthetic appeal, the architects have to incorporate a design suitable that takes into account the spectacular view of the sea and at the same time ensures it transforms the skyline of the port area.
XTU designers feel the building can be multifunctional. It can be a mixed-use project and, at the same time, be a modern lighthouse. This way, the building will always stand out from the ocean and is a major landmark for those on land. However, there is the need to have a delicate balance where the building acts as a gateway to the port and not an obstacle separating land from the sea.
The architects opted to have several narrow columns to introduce a perception of abundance. The narrow columns also give the illusion that the building is smaller than it actually is for anyone looking at it from the land.
At the rooftop is a panoramic restaurant. Patrons will have incredible views of the bay and ocean as they relax. Other facilities in the building include a gallery on the ground floor, offices, and specialty stores.
The architects also wish to have planters that will introduce greenery to the building and act as water purifiers. So, while the building will act as a lighthouse in the evening, the green will stand out during the day.
Axian towers is another proposed project by XTU Architects in Madagascar. The two-tiered towers depict the urban culture of Malagasy, the embrace of diversity and unity. The towers represent traditional Madascy architecture, where at a glance, one can imagine the houses in the high plateaus, those in the coastal verges, and the houses with wooden structures.
One of the defining features of the AXIAN Towers is the water garden. It is refreshing but also adds to the appeal of the towers. The giant water lilies remove the brick and mortar feeling common in buildings.
Instead, it softens the view and has a calming effect that will be enjoyed by those who walk in and out of the towers. The water lily garden in the hall gives a sense of continuity and a great way of bringing nature into the building.
The architects designed the towers to meet the present needs, but they also introduced a beam structure to accommodate future upgrades.
The beauty of AXIAN Towers is reflected in the design and its sustainability. The roof is covered with solar panels, meeting more than ⅓ of the towers’ energy needs. This is cost-effective for the tenants and gives credence to the importance of using natural energy and reducing over-dependence on the grid.
The architects opted to use glazed facades around the building to protect it from the sun. The building also has features that allow for rainwater collection into the garden. The large windows allow in natural light, which adds to the aesthetic appeal of the towers, both from outside and inside.
AXIAN Towers will be built in two phases. The first is expected to cover 32,340sqm, covering spaces for offices, retail stores, and restaurants. The second phase will cover 30,720sqm.
The design by ATU Architecture won second place. The museum would cover 24,300sqm, and the unique design provides natural lighting. The architects also introduced solar panels to tap into natural energy and reduce energy costs.
XTU Architecture has, over the past two decades, left a mark in France and across the world. The architects have participated in various international competitions that have helped XTU soar and make a name in the Architecture world.
Mario el Africano