Envelope engineering consolidates numerous technical specialities, and includes those related to materials, to thermal insulation to airtightness, wind effects, and others, as well less technical specialities such as ergonomics and psychology. Laura CARDUCCI had just won the competition for this administrative building. She contacted us, following the recommendation of the BRENAC-GONZALEZ agency withwhom we have already worked with on a number of projects.
The building has a simple geometry, a conventional internal layout and all its windows are laid out on the façade. The goal of the contracting authority was to achieve a High Environmental Quality (HEQ) ranking with a High Energy Performance (HPE) label and an Effinergie 2005 Low Consumption Building (LCB) level. This goal was achieved due to the invaluable contribution of the TRIBU agency with their highly ingenious measures, particularly with respect to a cooling network glued to the underlying slab surface (there are no suspended ceilings).
A simple façade for simple programs. The enclosure and covering was created economically and identically around the periphery with pierced shear walls, generously heat-insulated externally and comprised of insulated glazed windows with low-emission coating and wood joinery. The surroundings were taken into account with an outside screen installed 800mm in front of all the façades. The purpose of this screen is to shield the offices from traffic noises from the North. It is comprised of glass panels and installed in a non-connective way to prevent a chimney-effect which might encourage the spread of fire. To add visual interest to this 100m urban façade, the glass panels integrates subtle variations in slope.
Clear and laminated glass lie at passage level with tilted pointfixed structural glazing systems, where the upper part of the glass panel is held by two studs and very small tooled polyamide shims in the corners. We performed loading and shock tests before the launch of contractor bidding. The architect asked us to design wooden blinds for efficient protection against the sun from the South. Individual powering was given priority over general powering, but this was abandoned in the end due to high-maintenance concerns (there are more than 1000 blinds). Is this really a solution worthy of an energy efficient building? We thus developed an atypical drive system for the blinds with a view to allow what we imagine to be easier manoeuvring from the inside. This required simply opening the window and, without leaning outside, pushing apart or pulling together two levers fixed to the blinds with die-cast aluminium parts. This action pivots the blinds by 90° (and not 180°).
Akin to motorcycle stands, the springs allowed for a single open or closed position, which guarantees an interesting façade composition
at all times with somewhat random openings. As a precaution, the contracting authority asked that a prototype is to be made available to employees and unions for trial purposes. This was adopted unanimously! We were told that a joke was going around that, when arriving at the office in the morning, you had to open/close the blinds 10 times, like a body building exercise. In reality it is not a joke because it really is an exercise, and an exercise that is good for you!