Bizot Sports Center/

THINK TANK architecture


Project Details



Paris / France


Transformational use

Year (Design/Construction):

2016 / 2023

Area (Net/Gross):

- / 1980 m2
Operational Carbon emissions

Operational Carbon emissions (B6) kgCO2e/m2/y:

Embodied Carbon emissions

Embodied Carbon emissions (A1-A3) kgCO2e/m2:

  • Reuse of derelict industrial building originally built to house horses during the era of the horse-drawn carriage.
  • The structural elements have been refurbished and the intervention enhances the industrial character of the site.
  • A full-height atrium / winter garden serves to regulate the site’s temperature and provide natural daylight.
  • The design allows for flexible use of the different spaces.

Historical background 

The RATP building at 37 avenue du Docteur Arnold Netter in the heart of the 12th arrondissement is accessed via the porch of a residential building that is also owned by the RATP.
The industrial building at the back of the courtyard was originally built to house horses during the era of the horse-drawn carriage, and was later used as a mechanical workshop (welding, metalwork, maintenance of large equipment such as escalators, etc.) and furniture storage area before being abandoned.
The building is semi-detached on three sides and has a single courtyard façade facing the residential building on the avenue. This courtyard facade does not have any particular architectural character, having already been modified and partially masked by various extensions. The roof, with its large openings, is the main source of light.
The roof is in a poor state of repair and the entire building needs to be completely refurbished. The building’s main assets are its spacious layout, thanks to its generous dimensions, and its characterful roof frame. The timber frame is rustic, traditionally built and quite complex in terms of design, with large cross- sections. The repetition of the framework modules and the dimensions of the timbers help to reinforce the impression of space that overwhelms first-time visitors.

US Métro

Founded in 1928, the Union Sportive Métropolitaine des Transports (USMT) or US Métro is a Parisian multi-sports club linked to the RATP, which has a dozen venues open primarily to RATP staff, but also to non-RATP members.
The USMT offers a wide range of sporting activities to its members, including athletics, rowing, badminton, fencing, cycling, weightlifting, football, wrestling, archery and horse riding. Its sports facilities are spread across Paris (12th, 13th and 18th arrondissements) and the inner suburbs (Joinville-le-Pont, Antony, Pantin, etc.).
The Union Sportive Métropolitaine des Transports (USMT) or US Métro has 35 sports sections, 4,800 members, around ten sports venues, 34 full-time equivalent employees in sports, technical and administrative positions, a subsidy from CRE-RATP for 75% of the budget and 25% self-financing. US Métro is also known to the general public for its high-level sportsmen and women, with 42 world champions and 91 Olympic and Paralympic medalists in all sections.
The Bizot project brings together previously dispersed activities on a single site, with a focus on combat sports.
This operation is linked to the Debergue project (77 / 81 avenue du Docteur Arnold Netter), which previously housed some of the sports facilities in temporary buildings.

US Métro Bizot brings together a dozen different sports: Aikido, English Boxing, Thai Boxing, Fencing, Grappling, Weightlifting, Judo, Karate, Kickboxing, MMA, Wrestling, Physical Preparation and Yoga.
The Bizot site is also designed to accommodate pupils from neighboring schools.

A site full of constraints 

Due to the period of construction and the industrial activity carried out on the site, diagnostics revealed that the building was polluted by the presence of lead, asbestos and mercury. The first phase of work will therefore involve cleaning up and removing asbestos.
In addition, the presence of an ERP at the heart of the block poses accessibility and safety constraints, both for the worksite and for its use and management. Negotiations with the neighboring RIVP have made it possible to create an emergency exit through the project developed by Charles-Henri Tachon towards rue Mousset Robert.
The single access via the porch, with its constrained dimensions, also determines the site techniques and storage capacities on site, favoring the use of dry channels.
Finally, despite the history of the building and the presence of an overhead crane that can lift loads of up to 1T to the first floor, changes in standards and load-bearing capacity calculations mean that the floor structures need to be reviewed.

Entering the complex 

The open-work gate that has replaced the traditional Parisian porte cochère gives a glimpse of the sports center from the street.
From the street, the treatment of the porch, the caretaker’s lodge and the refurbished building has been designed to achieve the necessary homogeneity to clarify the spaces and guide the sportsmen and women to their training rooms.
The courtyard has now been transformed into a truly shared space, centered around the rain garden, and will be able to adapt to the rhythm of the seasons and sporting activities. The redevelopment of the courtyard and the building is a real asset for the accommodation. The main entrance to the sports center is located in line with the porch, so that it is immediately visible.
On arrival at the building, visitors will also have a view of the heart of the building, making them forget that the site is enclosed.

The project approach: using what already exists as a resource 

Rehabilitating the existing presupposes an inevitable link between heritage and time. Rehabilitating a heritage asset means placing it in a past timeframe, the qualities of which must be revealed, and at the same time in a future timeframe, the challenges of which must be anticipated. Highlighting the qualities of the inside and outside enables the perception – both internal and external – of the building as a whole to be renewed.
The two founding elements of the project are the conservation of the generous volumes and the enhancement of the framework. In addition, the intervention enhances the industrial character of the site through the architectural vocabulary of new interventions (perennial materials and rough finishes). Finally, despite the necessary partitioning of the volumes, the new sports center offers clear spaces with easy circulation and identification.

A winter garden in the heart of 

At the heart of the building, a full-height atrium serves to regulate the site’s temperature and provide natural light to the rooms at the back of the plot. This bright, tree-lined winter garden is both:

– A circulation space serving the main areas and housing the staircase and lift to the upper floor.
– A convivial space, with its tree-lined interior landscape and relaxation areas where you can enjoy views of the various sporting activities.
– A space for occasional sports activities when, in summer, the relaxation area is moved to the courtyard, where you can practice disciplines such as yoga or tai chi.
– A space for events that can be used privately, or even for hire.

The winter garden is designed as a truly multi-purpose space, linked to and extending the activity rooms on the ground floor. It is a way of showcasing sporting activities and their temporality, and of encouraging people to discover the different disciplines. It is the signature of the project and gives it its image, its special atmosphere with this interior landscape sheltered by the majestic roof structure.
It also functions as a temperate greenhouse, helping to heat the building in winter and ventilate and cool it naturally in summer.
Finally, upstairs, the walkways offer a multitude of plunge or counter-plunge views towards the ground floor or towards the sky through the roof structure.

A clearly laid-out plan for the sports hall 

This type of organization means that all the program’s floor space is on two levels that are accessible to all. In this way, the rest of the volume under the roof structure is left free, contributing to the quest for natural ventilation (free circulation of air) and thermal regulation (supply of fresh air, evacuation of hot air in summer or recovery of hot air linked to sporting activities in winter).
Above all, this system allows the structure as a whole to be seen, giving an extra dimension to an (almost) ordinary program.
Both the plan and the cross-sections of the project are simple, showing clear, legible spaces with proportions adapted to their uses. The proportions are also respectful of the existing structure of the building and require little major adaptation.
The ground floor of the hall houses the physical preparation, cross-fit and weightlifting room and the weapons room, as well as two changing rooms and technical rooms. The first floor houses the dojo and the boxing/MMA room, as well as two changing rooms.

Comfort for users 

In addition to the attention paid to enhancing the value of the existing building – which stems from a detailed analysis of the context and the building itself – the refurbishment/extension project is being carried out in a constant search for comfort for both users and local residents. For the latter, it is mainly the views of the complex that are more pleasant from the dwellings, but also the protection of their well-being.
For example, the entire project has been given careful acoustic treatment to ensure that the sports center’s activities do not cause a nuisance to neighboring homes.
The clear layout and flexibility of the spaces are a guarantee of quality for users, who can easily find their way around and make the premises their own. The atrium can be used as a waiting, relaxation or reception area. This flexibility is also expressed by the presence of the dance bars that run along the glass façades of all the sports halls, allowing both dancing and stretching and serving as markers on the glass walls to prevent accidents.
The creation of skylights facilitates the flow of light into the heart of the building, benefiting all the sports areas, which are glazed onto the winter garden.
Last but not least, the vegetation is back where it had completely disappeared. Inside, plants and a tree help to regulate the climate through evapotranspiration and improve air quality through photosynthesis. Outside, therain garden collects and filters rainwater before infiltration.

Diversity of Indoor Climates

 The differentiation of indoor climatic spaces has a dual importance: on the one hand, it contributes directly to the comfort of occupants, and on the other, it helps to optimize energy consumption by providing comfort where it is needed, when it is needed.
The various components of the indoor environment are linked and studied according to types of space and use.
These are multiple in the gymnasium:

  • The intermittent nature of the sports areas means that their needs vary considerably, and similarly their lighting requirements are significant and intermittent. These spaces therefore have wide access to natural light from the winter garden and the façade, as well as independent treatment of the envelope and climatic systems.
  • The offices are designed to be as comfortable as possible for the user, in terms of air quality, views and access to natural light. Hence their location in the new extension.
  • The gymnasium conservatory is a reception area that meets several needs. It is both a place of passage,
    for access to the activity rooms, and a destination, for a moment of relaxation, or for practicing a sporting
    activity. This space responds to a bioclimatic design so as to control comfort and atmospheres passively.

This search for the right balance explains the location choices that have been made for these different spaces, to meet comfort and ambience requirements.

A limited range of materials 

Both the refurbishment of the sports hall and the rebuilding of the administrative extension will use a limited range of materials, tried and tested in the world of construction and from the world of industry. This choice was made in response to the desire to limit finishing touches for greater durability and ease of maintenance, but also to reflect the history of the site. The transformation of the site into the USMT sports center is a renaissance in continuity.
Corrugated metal cladding is used on the facade and roof. The light grey cladding has a high albedo to reflect the sun’s rays and combat the urban heat island phenomenon.
The translucent polycarbonate serves as the façade of the temperate greenhouse, an unheated space.
The interior features natural aluminium joinery with steel doors, a metal structure for the first floor and staircases, and painted breeze-block partitions. The diversity of floor treatments is in keeping with the building’s uses: asphalt for the outside floors and the winter garden, in continuity with the courtyard, waxed concrete for the upstairs corridors, and flexible sports floors for the practice areas. The ceilings are fully acoustic treated with wood fiber panels.

A contemporary extension 

The various, heterogeneous annexes have given way to a clear, metallic, largely glazed volume whose contemporary design contrasts with the historic hall. The curtain walls are the same as those separating the sports halls from the atrium, in a bid to create continuity between inside and outside. The metal cladding on the façade is in keeping with the new skin of the hall.
This extension houses the administration of US Métro Bizot, with a meeting and social room downstairs and offices upstairs. These spaces are entirely visible from the courtyard, giving it a lively feel in the heart of the block, which was opaque and neglected.
Opposite the administration building, the annex has been renovated and houses technical premises, including the district heating substation.


Project management team

  • Architect: THINK TANK architecture
  • Structure and Civil engineering / Economy: BETEM Ingénierie
  • Environmental engineering firm: FBC Franck Boutté Consultants
  • Acoustic engineer: AVA Acoustique Vivié & Associés
  • Site pilot: OTCI
  • Pollution control engineering: IDDEA



  • Water: Eau de Paris
  • Electricity: ENEDIS
  • Urban heating: CPCU


Photography: Cécile Sptet


Want to stay up to date?

Sign up to our mailing list to receive regular updates on the most exciting news, research, case studies, and events related to sustainable design.