Extension of the Geric Shopping Centre and construction of a car park with optimized ArcelorMittal steel solutions

Thanks to the use of steel and innovative construction techniques, the extension of the Geric Shopping Center in the French town of Thionville could be realized in less than 10 months. The importance of the project lies in the global optimization of the structural system and the architecture and in the innovative fire engineering approach for both car park and shopping spaces. ArcelorMittal's Angelina® beams, ACB® beams and Cofraplus® 60 composite flooring deck were used.

Detailed information

An complex extension project

Facing the  impossibility of increasing the size of the property, the decision to extend the Geric mall in Thionville called for an unconventional solution. Therefore, the planned new building had to be erected on the site of the center's outdoor parking area situated south of the existing mall. Apart from increasing the commercial area, the extension thus also had to include a car park offering at least the same number of client parking spaces as before the extension.

Furthermore, the interruption of the mall's commercial activities had to be kept to a minimum in order to reduce losses for the shops and businesses.

Given all these circumstances, the only feasible solution was the use of steel for the structure of the new building, amongst others due to the speed of construction the material guarantees. The new building could be completed in a record time of just 10 months, from February to November 2013. A realization in concrete would have interrupted the commercial activities for at least 18 months. Thanks to the fast construction, the mall's businesses didn't miss out on the end of year sales of both 2012 and 2013.

Covering around 5.000m2, the new south wing of the Geric mall offers 4 levels. New shops and commercial spaces were created on the ground floor and an open, ventilated car park was built on the 3 levels above, increasing thus the number of parking spaces compared to the situation prior to the extension.

Structural design

It was the owners', architect's and engineering office's main aim to optimize the structural system in all possible aspects. Steel and composite elements were chosen as structural elements as they contribute to the structure's weight reduction, cost efficiency and construction speed  – all considered key factors in the Geric project.

The structure comprises 4 levels with a dimension of approximately 70x70m. On the ground level, the commercial spaces, ArcelorMittal's Angelina® beams were used as floor beams as their large openings provide aesthetics and transparency and can incorporate technical installations.

The flooring structure on the 3 car park levels is composed of ArcelorMittal Cellular beams (ACB®), on one hand for the optimization of the structural system, but also for architectural reasons. The ACB® beams' circular web openings suggest higher floor heights, as the human brain only perceives the upper part of the beam which leads to the impression of openness and increased safety.

ArcelorMittal Construction's composite flooring deck Cofraplus® 60 was used for the floor slabs on all levels. Thanks to its easy installation and light weight Cofraplus® 60 contributes to the structure's efficiency and therefore helps to reduce its environmental impact.

As the steel structure would remain visible on all levels and mainly unprotected against fire, it was galvanized entirely in order to ensure durability.

Innovative fire engineering approach

The construction techniques used for this project are applying the latest innovations in terms of structural calculation and fire engineering.

In fact, the structure of the commercial area is the first reference of Angelina® beams calculated with partial protection taking into account the membrane action of composite structures in case of fire and the car park is the first one in France built using unprotected ArcelorMittal Cellular Beams.

The project design followed the French procedure for the calculation of unprotected car park structures, taking into account the three usual French fire scenarios:

- 4 cars around a central column
- 7 cars in line at the corner of the car park
- 1 car in the circulation area

The innovation lies in the structural calculation of the cellular beams using the models developed in the recent Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) project FICEB+ (FIre resistance of long span Cellular Beam made of hot rolled profiles). In the past, it was not possible to perform such a calculation taking into account the specific features of cellular beams.

For the commercial area, the new calculation technique taking into account the membrane action of partially protected composite slab in case of fire has been used for the first time on the French market. This calculation technique is based on various research projects and has been implemented into the user-friendly software MACS+. It allows saving about 50% of the fire protection by applying it only where it is really necessary.

ArcelorMittal played a leading role in various Research & Development projects without which this new approach wouldn't have been possible – among them being worth mentioning: “Fire in Car Parks”, “Fire Resistance Assessments of Partially Protected Composite Floors (FRACOF),  RFCS FIre resistance of long span Cellular Beam made of Hot Rolled Profiles (FICEB+) and RFCS Membrane Action of Composite Structures in Case of Fire (MACS+).

The global optimization of the structural system and architecture in combination with this state-of-the-art fire engineering approach makes the project of the Geric Mall Extension an important reference for open car parks and shopping centers.

Project Information

  • Thionville
  • France
  • 2013
  • Architect:
    Riger Lepage - Ertim, Paris
  • Engineering Firm:
    Yannick Labart, BET Huguet
  • Steel construction:
    Wallerich Lux
  • Client:
    Geric, Thionville
  • Photographer:
    Gilles Martin, Oh Dancy, Olivier Vassart