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“We wanted to offer something more than a simple thermal renovation... to bring a touch of soul to these buildings while integrating a strong plastic dimension. We apparently won our bet since the project has fundamentally changed the perception of the Pen Ar Creac’h (culminating point in Breton) district,” advances Pierre-Henri Argouarch, project architect.
In 2018, the social-landlord, Brest Métropole Habitat launches a competition to renovate 220 social housing units divided amongst 12 buildings in the Pen Ar Creac’h district in Brest. The buildings were constructed pre-WWII, and the renovation seems ambitious.
Although the units are currently occupied, the landlord wants to proceed with renovating the housing units and facades. So the architectural agency’s response was radical: it proposed to completely transform the five end walls of the buildings that line rue de Gouesnou, a main artery along which the tramway circulates. A strong plastic approach in which these end walls become a means of expression as giant screens.
Didier Lamarre, graphic specialist and designer in the firm deciphers this graphic solution : « We chose to reproduce a 19th century maritime map that we recuperated from the Hydrological and Oceanographic Office representing the Brest coast and the Iroise sea. In Brest where the sea is omnipresent, the project resonates. ».
“From the start, we wanted to propose illuminated facades to give them a night life. This influenced our choice of materials,”, recalls Didier Lamarre.
The firm validates the use of polycarbonate as much for its thermal insulation quality as for its capacity to be backlit. The maritime map is enlarged and divided into five segments to create anamorphosis* to enhance the end walls. To achieve a visibly clear map rendering by day and by night, the firm opted for Danpalon® Ice with a Softlite finish on which a blue adhesive with the printed map was affixed.
“This system allows the white lines of the map to stand out clearly through the effect of transparency” , explains the graphic designer who carefully studied the choice of colours for Danpalon® to achieve a matte white effect with no iridescence.
For maximum continuity for the backlighting, the LED strips were installed laterally for the full height on the end walls, ensuring light diffusion and accessibility for maintenance. The entire installation was connected and synched with the urban lighting timers.
In conformity with fire legislation for buildings, the architectural firm should have integrated fire barriers every two floors on these end walls. For fear that this would degrade the facade aesthetics, the firm was able to get approval from the Engineering Control office for their more discreet solution of only one such barrier along the map meridian. « We are proud of the outcome which is faithful to the concepts proposed in our competition submission. This was our objective. » concludes Didier Lamarre.
* Anamorphosis: reversable deformation of an image using an optical system.
Brest Métropole Habitat
02 29 00 45 00
A3 ARGOUARCH ARCHITECTES ASSOCIES
02 98 33 25 25
BOUYGUES BATIMENTS GRAND OUEST
02 78 62 88 88
02 40 36 50 07
Danpalon® BRV, trame de 600 mm, ice with blue adhesive and print of Brest harbor