Relax At Work: Office Building IN/OUT near Paris
Text: Florian Maier
The site in Boulogne Billancourt comprises nearly 7 acres with a 6-storey building. Built in 1927, it soon became a symbol of industrial innovation, a landmark of the golden age of industry. The owner Société Foncière Lyonnaise (SFL) wanted to reorganize the site.
Desinger: Agence Jouin Manku
Location: 46 quai Alphonse Le Gallo, 92 Boulogne Billancourt, Paris, France
The site had been designed by the architect Adolphe Bocage in keeping with the great principles of the Modern Movement in architecture using simple geometrical shapes and reinforced concrete. Originally it was used by Le Matériel Téléphonique (LMT) for manufacturing telephone control units. In 1976, Thomson-CSF took over LMT, who, at the time, employed 10,000 people. In 1988, Thomson Multimedia transformed the factory into offices and set up its headquarter in the building, staying until 2009.
SFL then decided to restructure the building, aiming for it to become a benchmark in the tertiary sector, focusing on innovation as well as on wellbeing at work. This ambitious decision gave birth to the major IN/OUT project.
Re-defining working space in France
SLF commissioned Jouin Manku to design a new amenities wing of their ambitious IN/OUT office campus. How can workspaces in big companies be improved? What is missing? This interrogation has guided the design. Agence Jouin Manku decided to create a very different atmosphere to complement the historic ‘Bocage’ building. The aim was to give employees a healthy balance between formal and informal, work and play.
Now, the nearly 40 000 sq ft. amenities wing holds a 103 seats cafe, 462 seats restaurant, 200 seats auditorium, corporate board rooms, lounges, 2 large terraces, a fitness center, and various technical spaces. The interior design and furniture by Agence Jouin Manku have been thought out as a continuation of the outside lines of the building.
Jouin Manku were inspired by the Saint-Cloud park, the Seine river and the lush nature just close to the site. The amenities pavilion has been designed to allow these elements to penetrate the building, as well as to create spaces that would allow one to enjoy the gardens and terraces.
The concrete heart
The building is organized around a central tower made of bush hammered concrete, which holds all vertical circulation. The choice to use concrete for the center of the building was to create a coherence and dialogue with the neighboring ‘Bocage’ building, which is made of the same material and clearly shows its original industrial character.
Two wings revolve and wrap around the central tower, but they never meet. Their architectural lines are softer and each wing is a curved form, made of curved glass and vertical wood cladding. The spaces between the concrete center and the wood wings are filled with glass, which allows light to penetrate almost everywhere in the building, vertically or horizontally.
On the outside, the density of the vertical wood cladding increases and decreases, depending on its position. The pattern starts out smoothly, then its texture, created by adding chamfers, changes. These edges catch light differently and create a sense of depth on the façade. Inside, the main materials are wood, bush hammered concrete, plaster and curved glass. The curved wood that wraps a large part of the interior adds to the sense of warmth, while the simple use of glass and concrete add a crisp modernity to the project.
Dynamic shape, symbol of an avant-garde building
The structure of the ‘Bocage’ building evokes nostalgia, professionalism and rigor. In contrast, the new wing has been conceived as a building of contemporary architecture, designed around the idea of movement and flow. Its shape has been made to create a series of intertwined spaces. The building is organized around the idea of passage: passing of people, light and air. It is also a place which evokes movement, production, action and dynamism.
The roof of the wing has been designed as a colored envelope wrapping the building. The colored stainless steel tiles were chosen for their particular iridescent character. In front view, the tiles are green, but their color changes as the angle and light move. This gives the building a dynamic and always changing character, echoing the variations in the sky and sunlight.
A footbridge connects the two buildings. This bridge, made of white painted steel and wood, makes access easy between the two buildings, and acts as a symbolic link between the two architectural signatures, and the birth of a common project.
Visitors enter the historical building and are welcomed into a vast space similar to a hotel lobby. At the entrance a large oval desk leads visitors to what used to be an exterior courtyard. In the courtyard one discovers a surprising micro-architecture: A glass pavilion that is held up by a series of intertwined and woven wood beams. An ethereal floating lattice which at one point swoops down and gently balances on the floor below on just one point. This new glass canopy in the central courtyard creates a natural transition between the lobby of the historical building and the amenities wing.
This building was further developed in collaboration with the engineering office TESS for the structural elements and the skin of the building and with architectural agency DTACC for the technical development and architectural execution.
IN/OUT is a benchmark in terms of environment: It is in keeping with the RT 2012 norms for new buildings. The campus has received French and international certifications: HQE, Effinergie Rénovation (the equivalent of BBC for renovated buildings), BREAM Very Good and LED GOLD.
More photos, also from the interior, in the gallery
Architect of records: DTACC
General contractor: Bouygues Batiment
Lighting designer: ACL
Landscape designer: Pascal Gasquet