But think again, and the rationale becomes clearer. Close to roads and rail lines as well as the river, this is an ideal position for a treatment plant servicing Paris. By siting itself so near the city, it can minimise the distance that the waste has to be transported. Issy itself has a commitment to dealing responsibly with waste, being one of the first towns in France to promote the selective collection of food and goods packagings and wrappings.

So the reasoning was good, but there was still the issue of how one makes such an industrial process acceptable in a high-profile position. The answer, not surprisingly, is through careful and considered design, ensuring that the building would not offend in terms of appearance, of smell or of sound. Water from the Seine is used for cooling, and is released back at temperatures below 28C. All waste water goes through a treatment plant before entering the river. The structure has been designed to provide the highest degree of acoustic insulation.

The first move was to bury a considerable part of it, to reduce the apparent bulk. Of the 52m depth of the building, only 21m is above ground. An additional benefit is that this allows the delivery trucks to unload below ground and out of site.

But this is still a big building, 300m long and 70m deep.  The most public face, on the river front, is clad in timber, with the cladding set behind the elegant steel columns with tapered ends, also clad in timber. Projecting metal balconies, joined by diagonal tension members, help to articulate the facade, with the main focus being  on the planting which, already lavish, will become more so with time.

The timber cladding wraps round the sides for a short distance, but most of these side walls and the whole of the rear facade are clad in painted steel, in a copper colour specially developed for the project. ‘You can ask for any colour you want, when your facade is large enough,’ said Eric Dubosc of the project architect Dubosc & Associés. The warm colour of the cladding complements the timber while at the same time carrying industrial overtones in a heroic rather than a prosaic sense. It presents a face to the street that is muscular yet sympathetic – vital for a building that is not only in an important setting, but which also includes meeting rooms and conference halls alongside its industrial functions. While the riverside frontage is the most important for people who are strolling through or for views across the Seine, most of the inhabitants of Issy will see the rear more frequently.

The cleverness of the design is that it does not seek to disguise the industrial purpose of the building, but nevertheless makes it into a good neighbour. Part of this at least is due to the selection of cladding material.