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"The aforementioned definition of "headquarters" leads us straight to the very heart of this project, to the strategic reason of why the COLAS Group initiated the process to construct a building that will in its every shape and form, be in line with the values that the company has lived by and conveyed to others, ever since it was founded back in 1929:
Ethics | Security | Human Resource Management | Respect for the Environment | Profitable Growth | Innovation | Social Responsibility | Culture
Throughout this document we will strive to illustrate and work to guide the project toward these values, meeting the criteria of visibility, accessibility, autonomy, compact design and efficiency.
The COLAS headquarters must be unique without being ostentatious. By making a clear architectural statement, it will become part of the Parisian skyline and stand out in the visual memory of everyone that comes in to contact with the group. Above all, this building will be an ambassador, an interactive envelope, which will naturally and elegantly communicate a message, the unique COLAS message.
One of the main features of a headquarters is that it naturally stands out from its surroundings. Whether incorporated into a dense urban area, free of all constraints on a campus, or in an urban fringe area under development, the project must be able to draw on part of the area’s intrinsic dynamics to then stand out from the existing landscape, whilst at the same time retaining a sense of openness and accessibility.
A property for Road Constructors should be a building with an irreproachable clarity of function. A building that is ergonomic and fluid, that avoids pitfalls and constrictions, a truly open and smooth road. This is how we envisaged the building, in order to give the group the utmost organisational flexibility, whilst at the same time taking advantage of research into compact building design, orientation and natural ventilation, in order to create an environmentally responsible property.
These 3 principles shaped the general guidelines for the creative process. We believe that a leading company’s headquarters should be measured and evaluated based on these 3 aspects. All subsequent analyses and approaches, whether contextual, functional or aesthetic, are defined by this requirement.
[IMPLEMENTATION & CONTEXT]
The project will be built in a strategic location: in a developing area next to the Paris ring road. For us, the disparate and irregular urban fabric does not seem to be highly influential, therefore only the following 6 elements detailed below will have a major influence on the future COLAS headquarters. These fixed points form the factors that will have a real influence on how the project is developed.
1_ The Paris ring road
2_ The tramway
3_ BFM TV’s headquarters
4_The housing adjacent to the plot
5_ The COLAS site
6_ The Trigone Tower site
[PROCESS & INFLUENCES]
1> EVOLVING FROM THE EXISTING SITUATION
As indicated in the above analysis, the location chosen for the project is ideal thanks to its central location, which is a gateway into an area that is being fully restructured, as well as its proximity to another state-of-the-art headquarters. However, the project must adapt to the two volume restrictions on the existing site, avoiding this constraint and not ignoring it, in compliance with town planning regulations.
2> LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
The first step is vertical, to orient the project toward the future location of the triangular plot, in order to isolate the future building from nearby housing. This element could also integrate the building’s entire service and vertical transportation centres. The second step is horizontal, to find a visual relationship with the ring road. To somehow function as a pedestal for the office building, by locating it above the limit of the great ring road around the city. The third proposal provides a more constructive way of doing things, by exploiting the empty space. An easement adjacent to the plot by incorporating an initiative, whether for housing or the service sector. The transitional building becomes an architectural statement as it unfolds on the borders of the plot, this will comprise the project’s first level of tertiary office space and this will be the permanent base that the subject property will be built over.
3> VOLUMETRIC RESEARCH: THE PROCESS
Once the building’s positioning within its surrounding area had been decided, a volumetric research process was carried out in order to define the characteristics of the property. The research process confirmed the need for a detached property, which interacts with this base, this right-angled geometric foundation. The linear frontage and the amount of daylight required, made the project more complex, incorporating either a central atrium or a setback in order to provide views.
4> VOLUMETRIC RESEARCH: THE INFLUENCES
The position of the building means that it appears to lean towards the ring road and thanks to the setback between the the Trigone tower and the subject property, there is room for a green space, which makes the project truly one of a kind in this urban area. The idea of an aerodynamic object creates an image of this concept for future users of COLAS roads.
We want to promote this image of innovation and technology via the property’s strong lines, which will be accomplished by a double skin that acts like the moving folds of a garment."
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