What makes it so unique is how the new building fits in with the surrounding landscape of Rouen. The building’s dynamic profile contrasts with the omnipresence of horizontal designs found along the major port, while its silhouette echoes the renovated industrial buildings on the right bank. The oblique shapes are reminiscent of the silhouettes of cranes and other objects in the port and the bows of the passing ships.
The building showcases and utilises the site’s strong presence to enhance urban life on the left bank. As an extension of the future park, the building is the figurehead of the future eco-district. It is a contemporary metropolitan icon, but already forms part of the surroundings, much like the cathedral and the Gustave Flaubert bridge. It blends in with the unique visual landscape of the quays and the history of the port.
Its multi-faceted, transparent architecture plays with the changing light of the Normandy sky, reflections from the water, and the co - lours of the climate. The building is covered with fish-like ‘scales’ made of subtly co - loured glass. Reflecting and refracting the light of the sun, the glass scales cover the building with hints of colour that are further enhanced by the reflections from the river below. The effect is inspired by impressionist painting, and in particular Claude Monet. The glass is covered with a layer of metal oxide creating a colourful iridescent reflection from the outside but disappearing on the inside leaving the light in work areas unaffected. These changing colours are a contemporary interpretation of the chromatic variations in Claude Monet’s many paintings of Rouen Cathedral.
The double layered façade provides the building with passive thermal protection. On the roof, the glass scales make way for solar panels that provide a considerable contribution to the building’s energy self-sufficiency. Manufactured in Europe, the panels are modern in design and provide varied nuances of colour while ensuring high energy yield. The transparency and depth of the double façade enhance the variations of light and prevent the building from appearing overbearing. The building’s appearance transforms throughout the day. With the light shining through, it appears to float on the quay.
On the building’s roof, the large terrace extends the reception areas and offers a panoramic view over the city and river.
Under the impressionistic outer layer, the work spaces are arranged according to their use. The ground-floor reception area provides direct access to the floors above. The floor on the quay-level provides reception areas, meeting rooms, services and support activities.
The offices are spread over the floors and enjoy excellent lighting. A gap that stretches from top to bottom separates the building in two and brings natural light to the heart of the building. It widens to form patio spaces on certain floors, creating terraces accessible to visitors. Designed with the aims of efficiency and comfort, the building is both innovative and exemplary in nature. Navigating your way through the building is easy and intuitive, and the emphasis is placed both on the work spaces and community areas.
Photo credits: Luc Boegly