This project in Bordeaux deals with the insertion of an office block on a wharf front site situated on the Quai du Paludate, at the corner of a street housing a network of harbour warehouses. This urban network is undergoing a transformation due to the arrival of high speed rail lines at Bordeaux station, just a five minute walk from the plot.
It is a project which raises the question of contact between old constructions undergoing transformation and new volumes housing both tertiary activities and modern collective accommodation that break bounds. Opposite, a public space, constructed as a square on the site of the Caisse d’Epargne Head Office and the cultural MECA building, opens onto the Garonne River.
The architectural treatment of this project utilises the full scale of the plot, raising the building to its maximal height, topped by an attic.
This effect of measured presence is not emphasised through its architectural treatment. The building appears as a series of strata forming office floors. This horizontal division enables an alinement on the neighbouring buildings and plots which withdraws progressively. On the interior courtyard, a design made up of re-entrant angles determines an enclosed green space which includes an elevated carpark for 18 vehicles and an underground carpark is situated below the wharf side Quai du Paludate building.
As it is an office block, the treatment of the façade is put to the fore in terms of lighting and sun protection.
The design of deep façades integrates a play between vertical and horizontal brise-soleils: a requirement due to the complex and differentiated orientations of space. Over the public space, the north-east/north-west façades have strips of folded metallic duckboard, placed at regular 75 cm intervals on every floor.
The south-east/south-west orientation of the interior courtyard requires a great depth of horizontal protections. These are made up of a 2 m deep balcony which also serves the purposes of relaxation and maintenance, and of a projection of horizontal metallic strips stapled to the concrete. This dual arrangement brings together the power of the concrete slab flooring with delicate and light metallic structures. All the windows are lightly tinted with a minimal refraction factor to guarantee optimal vision in the shade of the brise-soleils. This arrangement gives us a three-dimensional reading of the building which, under the whiteness of the suffits, recedes in a rhythm of coloured suspended ceiling sheets designed in parallel, drawn-out strips. The finished building does not only have a front view from the public space, but can also be seen horizontally from the pavements of the Quai du Paludate and the Rue du Commerce, revealing the work to reverse the façades on the gable ends which thus become, through their position above the roof-top silhouettes, elements which impact on the public space. The gable end, no longer attached to the neighbouring building, is an integral part of the structure.
The building unites the mineral and the transparent in strict lines and rhythms that give it a timeless aspect. Its façade over the public space is sober and elegant, expressing the serious nature and discipline attached to the jobs of the legal and financial advisors who occupy the site. The façade of the interior courtyard has a more domestic character, allowing the user to appreciate the deep terraces, a feature which is usually absent from office blocks. Echoing these exterior spaces next to the offices, high trees reach for the balconies and bring their soft shade to the parked cars beneath.