Modern forms and classic colour contrast with metallic coated steel: The facade of Vendée Habitat Headquarters

The facade of the Vendée Habitat Headquarters comes to life thanks to the contrast of the silvery spangle of metallic coated steel and the dark Eternit panels. Built in the heart of one of France's most green and touristic regions, the building is characterised by architecture that combines modernism in its form and classicism in its colours. Parts of the facade and the sun screens are clad with panels made of ArcelorMittal's aesthetic and corrosion resistant metallic coated steel.

Detailed information

Colour contrast and durability with metallic coated steel

The use of metallic coated steel in combination with Eternit fibre cement panels for the facade enhances the building's aesthetics thanks to its extraordinary light reflection. Like a fortress, the headquarters of Vendée Habitat stands out in the lush green surroundings, with the metallic coated steel facades sparkling in the sunlight.

The "space-material" relation is very strong and therefore sees this surprising combination of metallic coated steel and Eternit, alongside the intriguing angularities, worthy of the greatest scientific complex.

The east and west stairwells as well as the sunscreens are clad with metallic coated steel. Beyond its aesthetics, this product offers durability and corrosion resistance over time. Metallic coated steel is also used in the interior spaces in order to create a certain continuity between the exterior and the interior.

The three-dimensional strip on the front facade is made of dark Eternit panels, an insulation solution for exteriors fixed on masonry apron walls. Between these elements, aluminum frames were assembled. The Eternit elements as well as the joinery elements are placed identically using a random rate of multiples of 60 cm.

Architectural project: urban planning...

The architects defined the structure of the project taking into account the situation of the site and the position of the various cardinal points.

The new building is built in an east-west direction in order to allow for offices facing north and south. The car parks are south, between the new building and the railroad tracks. This has a positive effect on the building's overall aesthetics as the car park does not have a visual impact on the main facades. The ground floor is built into a natural slope and rests on a half buried basement. This basement connects with a service yard on the ground level.

There are two accesses:
- a public pedestrian access to the upper part of the plot that offers parking spaces for visitors
- a second, private access, located at the lower part of the slope with staff parking, additional parking of 20 spaces, the service yard connected to the archives, technical facilities, and underground parking

...and functional design

Regarding its functionality, the building is organised over five levels. The basement offers a car park, while the archive is located on the ground floor, and the three upper levels house offices.

The lobby on the ground floor forms a central atrium of 16.2m in height, with the office floors arranged around it.

The inversion of the last level in relation to the two lower floors is the result of the cusps in the north and south facades. These cusps define a canopy towards the north magnifying the public entrance with the sun shades protecting the offices on the southern side and terraces towards the north and south on the management floors.
The facade is outlined following the movements of a three-dimensional, architectural strip, with the glazed work spaces are arranged between.

Each level is organised around the central core defined by the lobby and atrium. Superimposed on each floor around the atrium, there are public meeting and recreation spaces, sanitary installations, and vertical circulation. On either side of the atrium, theses installations are arranged on 12m-wide floors.
In order to fulfull the client's wish of holding large receptions from time to time, a modular design for the ground floor was utilised. Movable walls are used to define a reception area that can comfortably accommodate over 250 people.

Project information

  • La Roche-sur-Yon
  • France
  • Architect:
    ABP Architectes - B. Pourrier
  • 2009
  • Client:
    Vendée Habitat
  • Engineering firm:
  • Contractor:
    MSB - Société Inter-pliage
  • Photos:
    S. Chalmeau
  • Text:
    ABP Architectes (adapted)