Architect : Raynal Architecture - 81370 - Saint-Sulpice - France
Fabricator : Carré Aluminium - 31170 - Tournefeuille - France
Other planning committee : Vincent Boutin - Photographe - 81000 - Albi - France
Extension of the Les Cauquillous branch of Laboratoires Pierre Fabre: sympathetic integration in the environment
The Les Cauquillous site, located in Lavaur, 40 km from the city of Castres in the South of France, has been the administrative and commercial headquarters of the dermocosmetics branch of the pharmaceutical group Laboratoires Pierre Fabre since 2000. Having become too small over time, the group decided to build an extension.
The architects Raynal Architecture were commissioned to design the extension. The brief was „to extend the original building designed by the architect Roger Taillibert by 5,000 m2 of open-plan office space for 200 persons, without disturbing the perfect integration of the headquarters in its surroundings,” as summarised by Aurélien Gaffard, representative of the architect’s office. “The building, which stands on a hillside at the edge of a forest, is embedded in a natural landscape inspired by the most beautiful Mediterranean gardens. There is a very special relationship between landscape and nature which we would like to preserve.”
Fluidity and transparency
Part of the new building nestles into the lower part of the grounds, thus minimising the impact on the site and on the original building of Les Cauquillous with its emblematic round and futuristic lines. The interplay of the building size and roof gives rise to a uniform 20% slope, creating a dynamism that allows the structure to blend into the landscape while ensuring a smooth transition to the ground.
Due to the low stability of the loamy clay soil, this integration meant that numerous technical chal- lenges had to be overcome. A supporting structure was provided by a secant piled wall, installed to a depth of 12 metres to absorb the earth pressure, overhung by a crowning beam which in turn is secured by ground anchors in the upper part to prevent it collapsing. This wall – which bears the load of the building extension which itself is supported by piles – is secured by 45 m piles inserted below the existing building.
Rather than building upwards, Raynal Architecture proposed to construct a building with simple pure lines in the clearing, rising from the ground towards the existing building, with a green roof terrace, ensuring its perfect integration in the natural site.
On the inside, the four levels opening to the outside tune in perfectly with the shape requirements of the building. Up to ten work areas are available to each employee which they can choose according to their needs and desires (workstation in open-plan office, seating steps, meeting room, breakroom for rest and relaxation, access to the outdoor terraces, etc.) This search for flexibility and a fluid use of space goes hand in hand with the search for transparency and openness to the outdoors.
Architectural all-glass aesthetics with the WICONA all-glass façade WICTEC 50 SG
One of the extension’s highlights is the 1,370 m2 all-glass façade with a total length of 190 m and a maximum height of 12 m. This technical solution was chosen to achieve an overall appearance in harmony with the original building.
The WICTEC 50 SG curtain wall system by WICONA, proposed by Carré Aluminium, is ideally suited for major façade projects with large glazed areas. Thanks to its unique joining principle of structural glazing characterised by flush mounted glass infills and silicone joints, it was the perfect solution in this instance for an all-glass SSG façade design. In addition to the “all-glass” architectural effect of WICTEC 50 SG, the WICONA curtain wall system impresses by its ability to combine large surfaces, invisible loadbearing structures, efficient thermal insulation (Uw ≤ 1.3/ (m2.K)) and high resistance. This means that WICTEC 50 SG is the first all-glass façade that complies with French seismic resistance regulations and has a European Technical Approval (ETA No. 12/0551) and a French DTA (Document Technique d’Application’ – Technical Application Document).
For Carré Aluminium, the challenge lay mainly in the volume and weight of the curtain walls, made of glass units 1.90 m in width and 4 m in height, with design loads of up to 400 kg and demanding installation work. This was facilitated by the special fastening system integrated into the stick construc- tion of the façade, which enables the entire structure to be locked by giving a quarter turn to a patented device.
In his search for transparency, the architect wanted to detach the loadbearing mullions from the façade to generate the impression of regular and uniform mullions and avoid any masking effect, thus gaining lightness. As a result, major technical and design constraints had to be overcome, the first of these being the need for suspended ceilings. The challenge was therefore to join the curtain wall to the roof using additional elements that could not be executed with pre-stressed honeycomb concrete slabs. A steel basin covered with concrete was installed, onto which the façade was hung using a hybrid system consisting of metal brackets developed with the support of Carré Aluminium. Particular care was exercised in choosing the mullions (16 mm x 6 mm) in order to achieve a harmonious and uniform appearance in the overall structure.
The façade is characterised by the perfect integration of 19 power-operated and remote-controlled WICLINE 90SG (L 1,500 mm x H 3,000 mm) parallel outward opening sashes, allowing efficient ventilation of the building without interfering with the aesthetic presentation. In order to enhance the inside/outside effect, the entrances feature WICSTYLE 65 double-leaf doors by WICONA.
This extension, which was awarded an “Exceptional” HQE Certification (French sustainability certificate), helps to optimise energy management, thanks to the concrete inertia and the sloping green roof that is equipped with an innovative root watering system, as well as the visual comfort and the light penetration provided by the façade.
An architectural concept with great appeal
“The building combines most of the activities of the Pierre Fabre brands in dermo-cosmetics whose motto is: ‘From Health to Beauty’”, according to Aurélien Gaffard. “The building is intended to reflect his dimension of beauty that creates well-being. The architectural concept, which is based on integration, has received huge support, not only from the employees of Laboratoires Pierre Fabre but also from the many partners who have joined us in taking up the challenges of this concept. Their proposals have been a key contribution to our success.”