This project is located on La Reunion, a French island - with a population of 800,000 - in the Indian Ocean. The challenging climatic environment is tropical, subject to hurricanes and flash flooding. The project brief involved the establishment of a cyclotron, both for radio-pharmaceutical production and research, with associated laboratories, micro-PET facility and vivarium. An extension to the original facility incorporates an insectarium and additional research space associated with work on the mosquito spread tropical disease “Chikungunya” which killed 219 people on the island in 2006.
The heavily serviced building is designed to the highest standards to satisfy numerous regulations: nuclear, biological, pharmaceutical, animal welfare and also resistance to hurricane winds of up to 270 km/h. Set into the natural slope of the site, the form of the building is rectangular with a curved block picking up the geometry of the triangular site. A shaded atrium connects the two, drawing visitors into the pleasantly cool interior. Technical rooms including the cyclotron are accommodated at the lowest level without openings. Laboratories and office spaces on the upper floors enjoy light and views to the mountains or ocean. The escape stairs form buffers to the tropical sun at the ends of each block.
Travertine, grey metal and clear glass externally give the building calm, rigour and openness. The tropical atrium is exciting, as it is open to the exterior most of the time, enjoying the warm sea breeze. It is only closed when the weather requires.