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La Platine is the building through which you enter the Cité du Design when you get off the tram: an imposing structure made up of triangles of glass and steel, glinting green and grey.

The Cité du Design gained a striking new look with the construction of its main building, La Platine. Forget industrial architecture with its heavy metal structures - here the bearing walls have gone, to leave a gigantic open space. Saint-Étienne's cathedral of design houses a restaurant, a glasshouse, the Cité du Design shop, an auditorium, a materials library and various exhibition spaces. La Platine not only serves design, but is itself a life-size experiment as regards its internal operation! It is built over an earth tube, and the roof consists of 14,000 photovoltaic triangles: two ingenious ideas that make for an extremely energy-efficient building. And you might not realise it, but there is still a link to the old ordnance factory, the Manufacture d'armes: a "platine" is the French name for the lock on a firearm, which is the firing mechanism used to ignite the propellant.

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