Montigny-Le-Tilleul town hall
Contracting autority award 2013
Competition Steel Construction award 2014
The project for the new town hall at Montigny-Le-Tilleul goes far beyond the renovation and extension of a existing building ill-adapted to providing an efficient service to the population. It is more a case of, through architecture, recreating a universe that makes the extension the heart of the building.
A world where the existing heritage building would be put forward and rid of disagreeable extensions, a world where the open space intended to be used as development land would be kept as public space and magnified by being used as a park, a world where the landscape, the valley, the wide and green nature of the district would be highlighted by the new construction.
The project was an opportunity to redesign the area of crude earth and asphalt that used to be the village bowling area whilst, at the same time, redeveloping the area surrounding the old town hall consisting of a parking lot and a small public square. To complement it's architectural purpose the project should also be considered as a means to give the centre of the Montigny- Le-Tilleul district a new sense of quality and clarity.
The extension takes the form of a large branch opening on the back of the existing building, this new wing of over 2000m2 takes full advantage of the difference of height between the ground floor of the existing building and the park three metres below. This situation allows the greater part of the extension to literally float one level above the park. In fact the open space is no longer considered as development land but is magnified by the new construction of which only 15% is in contact with the ground.
This disposition also allows for the majority of the public services to be on ground level and accessible both from the old part of the building and from the park thanks to a soft climbing ramp which helps visitors access the site effortlessly.
The configuration of the functions is in the spirit of the plans and cross-section.
In the largest area of the ground floor all the services are split into three wings, corresponding to the different poles of the district, to be precise, Head Offices, Population-District Planning and Finances, the top floor is fully occupied by the social services and the park level is reserved to the staff cafeteria and will be opened to the population for special events and parties.
In the centre of the three wings and of it's three floors is the reception. In the old town hall the wedding room is still in function, as is the reception room and the councillors’ offices which are used sparingly.
A significant characteristic of the project is the large delicately balanced space, the general style however is more subdued. The objective was to not immediately show the inherent characteristics linked to most of the rooms' function in the services industry.
It is a work space but it cannot be seen, from an academic view point as an office with an imposing hallway. The whole building has a common architectural trait of having facades punctuated by wooden structures that make the purpose of the building unidentifiable at first.
The construction is completely homogenous as the differentiation between the windows, flooring, roofing and columns is diminished by the vertical repetition of cedar elements that are left untreated.
From a construction point of view the building is a structural exploit, but this is understated. The carrying structure is composed of large extremely thin Vierendeel beams.
That allow a free standing space of up to 12 meters without adding overly dramatic effect.
The goal wasn't to create a structure separated or foreign to it's environment but to adopt a soft contemporary architecture that can stand out without overstatement.
Inside the platforms are big open plan spaces with all the elements of the carrying structure concentrated in the facade. The room make-up is thus reversible.
The chosen configuration is linked to the list of objectives defined at the beginning of the project by the local district council following due consultation of the various services. It is largely vast open platforms that encourage collaborative work surrounded by office space and smaller meeting areas allowing individual work or teamwork.
Each service also has a meeting room fit for twelve people. Two of these meeting rooms are stand alone and literally projected towards the landscape. A meeting room accessible to the public outside of opening hours is also planed for the ground floor to complement the cafeteria that can also be used by various associations.
The building follows the demanding criteria of a very low energy construction. A cost effectiveness study on a twenty year period has shown the ill-advised nature of a passive criteria in this case. The E general is of 65 to the K of 28. This should limit the heating cost to less than 3800 € per year for the entire project.
This performance is obtained due to insulation strengthened with 20cm of rock wool in the front and 25 cm in the roof and floor boards. The wood work present a general U of 1.15. The use of a double flux ventilation system and a very effective gas boiler.
The building has automatic shutters throughout the east and south-east facades but a big part of the solar protection is also ensured by the row of great lime trees that the general layout has sought to preserve.