Canopée des Halles de Paris


DECODE is a young company founded in Paris during the early months of 2010, following a thorough market research developed over the previous two years, focused on the world of contemporary architecture and, in particular, the architectural works of considerable importance on an international level. The name chosen, obtained by the fusion of the words DEvelopment COmplex DEsign, intend to communicate immediately and clearly the concept of process. The reference to decoding simply interprets a set of actions and skills related to the development of the project during the phases that lead to a more concrete implementation and subsequent management. Subsequently, the three keywords individuate the development of complex projects as the scope of this young company, which operates in close contact with all parties contributing to the concretisation of the building. The teamwork, structured around the two founders Valerio Bonora and Luca Dal Cerro, consists of a small set of people who represent the core around which other professionals support the resolution of complex problems, maintaining at the same time a strong organizational and managerial flexibility. The common denominator is certainly what, in French, is defined as savoir faire, or the wealth of expertise.

A good example to explore the approach of this society in large-scale projects can be provided by renovation project of   “Les Halles” area, which represents the heart of the French capital, both from the economic point of view and in relation to the infrastructural aspects that characterize it. Within the metropolitan area Les Halles is the most important transport hub for the metro and RER system. Above the intermodal terminal is located one of the most important shopping centers in Europe, which supports an important part of the Parisian economy. Moreover, at ground level a vast green area is to be found, presenting a potential which exceeds its current conditions. The first development of the architectural concept lead to the phase called PRO which, within the design process formally adopted in France, represents the preparation of the project before it can be assessed by the construction companies in the tender, prior to which must be demonstrated the feasibility of the design solutions through a series of necessary technical insights.


  • Project name: Canopée des Halles de Paris
  • Project type: international competition focused on reconfiguration for a wide urban area
  • Project surface: 17.000m² (without underground portions)
  • Costs previewed before PRO phase: 180M€ (without underground portions)
  • Opening of tender competition: January 2011
  • Client: SemPariSeine (Ville de Paris)
  • Architect: Patrick Berger & Jacques Anziutti Architectes
  • Responsible for PRO phase: Ingérop – Ingénierie et Conseil
  • Responsible for master model management: DECODE – Development Complex Design


  • BASE CONSULTANTS – energy optimization and sustainability
  • INGELUX – lighting analysis and engineering
  • ACV – acoustic engineering
  • ARCORA – façade systems engineering
  • EPPAG – glass surfaces engineering

Within this delicate transition, DECODE acted as an intermediary between all the professionals involved in the development process, including architects, engineers, façades specialists, etc.. All information provided in digital format by the different operators, both in the form of three-dimensional geometries, and as traditional bi-dimensional drawings, were harvested, discretized and incorporated into a single three-dimensional master model, whereby it was possible to assess the consistency technical solutions and relationships that connect them.

During this first phase my contribution to the PRO phase was concentrated on the development of a series of lots, and in particular the special façades of the buildings (which constitute a complex roofing system), the secondary structure for the buildings’ covering, the Petite Canopée special façade system and some complex elements of the vertical façades. All the geometries have been developed through a parametric/generative process into a Rhinoceros platform, availing typical details and technical documents which defined geometry constraints. During the development of the lots I participated to several meetings with architects, engineers and façade specialist, in order to check all the incoherencies and establish new feasible solution for complex and critical areas of the project. The evolution of this process can be appreciated through the images organized into the gallery below.

Of course the role of model manager is not limited to a mere support for 3D modeling or parameterization of complex geometries. The degree of expertise that characterizes those who work in reality as DECODE put them in a position to understand the problems raised by technological development information system, report and recommend solutions in advance to the different actors in the project. With the resolution of all the critical geometric, structural and technological level issues the interoperable model undergoes a transformation, becoming a pedagogic tool for understanding the project: all the geometries generated by the model management company are thus translated by customized plugins in a viewer that allows construction companies to navigate the complex project, facilitating its understanding and ensuring a direct reference to all the technical details which will constitute the bases for the bill of quantities. With this point of view the viewer acquires a 4D value (defined as a fusion between 3D model and dynamic data-base), which makes it more accessible to a range of data otherwise precluded to many players, with the exception of international majors. Even smaller construction companies are thus able to access procurement contracts for complex projects, facilitated by an understanding of the work to be carried out, its component parts and, in particular, the distinction between elements easily available on the market and details that, by contrast, require a customised production.

The use of BIM technology for optimised management of complex projects, as well as the adoption of the IFC protocol for data transfer, provides a strong advantage for the different actors in the project but, in particular, ensures a reduction in purchasing costs related to the project, in addition to compliance with the deadlines set down for its implementation. The transversal presence of a model manager across one or more phases of the design process, regardless of the quantity and type of specialists operating at any single moment, ensures continuity of control on the evolution of the interoperable master model. If this control will be maintained in the property administration, the client may also obtain a strong cost reduction, thus becoming the actor who most favores the adoption of these technologies.


  • Arch. Ing. Luca Dal Cerro (co-founder)
  • Arch. Valerio Bonora (co-founder)
  • Arch. Jessica Dechevrand
  • Ing. Phillip Shapiro
  • Ing. Ariane Genty
  • Arch. Seung Wan Lim
  • Arch. Matteo Lo Prete
  • Jennifer Shapiro
  • Mario Altobelli
  • Elenonora Zacchini

For further information about the society and its approach:

Please note that all the materials and images related to this project are protected by the international laws on copyright, being intellectual property of the authors mentioned into each image. You’re not allowed to copy, modify and/or reproduce each of these materials. Each abuse of this series of rights will be reported and punished.

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