École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay

Historically located in Cachan, in the Paris region, the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) is a large multidisciplinary school for research and higher education. In 2008, it was decided for it to be moved to the Saclay plateau, in order to bring it closer to the other elite education institutes located there: Polytechnique, École Centrale and Supélec. It then took the name ENS Paris-Saclay.

The project of the new 64,000 m² campus has been entrusted to the architect Renzo Piano and his firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop. It features eight buildings that surround a one-hectare garden. In 2016, while the buildings had not yet risen from the ground, a consultation was launched. Empreinte was awarded at the end of the year.
The project is carried out under BIM, a tool that allows the modeling of construction data, and the layouts under REVIT, an architectural software.

The years 2017 and 2018 were devoted to studies and prototypes.
Then between 2019 and the start of 2021, Empreinte installed more than 4,000 bespoke signage objects on the ENS Paris-Saclay site.

So that users can navigate the campus, it is broken down according to an orthonormal grid that identifies each place by its abscissa and ordinate. For this atypical concept to work, the signage had to be very visible.
Two large enameled lava sandblasted frescoes have been installed at the two entrances to the campus. They are a kind of "user manual" of this orthogonal grid system. Presenting the site plan, the frescoes are placed on the ground because the level of the ground floor has been designed with transparency. 25m² and 22m², they are composed of several plates of lava stone, which have received an enamel impression, then traditional screen-printing, and a selective sandblasting revealing the raw material.

In addition to these maps, more than 1,000 ground codes allow users to find their way around the site. These are either directionals or landmarks. They can be found inside the buildings, on all four levels, but also outside, where they're made of glazed stoneware.

Over a hundred directional illuminated signs have also been installed, suspended or transom. These are light boxes backlit by LEDs. They are located at the access level between the garden and the buildings, and inside the buildings.

Finally, around 2,000 door signs, permanent or modifiable over time, were installed by Empreinte. They consist of a folded sheet on which transparent plates are attached, supporting the graphics. The plates are removable and without visible screws.

École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay

Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Technical characteristics
Large frescoes on the ground in enamelled sandblasted lava, screen-printing on glass slats, illuminated signs, door signs, markers on the ground

© Julie Beyou / Empreinte

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