In a tenuous economic context, one must be daring! But the gamble waged by the Fédération du Batîment des Pays de la Loire and de Loire-Atlantique has paid off. On Friday July 4th, after eighteen months of work, some 360 professionals attended the inauguration of their “Maison du Batîment,” an exemplary building by Tetarc. Designed by the Nantes architectural agency, Tetarc, this 4,000 square meter, four-story building set atop two levels of parking was established in Saint-Herblain, near Nantes. It is home to the headquarters of the regional and departmental construction federations and their partners, BTP Bank and the SMABTP (The Mutual Company of Public Construction).
“The architecture distinguishes itself above all else by the large slabs of raw concrete on the eastern and southern facades, supported by a grid of metal bracings that meet new earthquake-resistance standards,” explains architect Florent Delaboudinere. The structure stands out: paradoxically raw (with an omnipresence of concrete and metallic structures) and refined (switchboards hidden in the slabs, covered assembly nodes, floor slabs without any visible support beams). This energy efficient building flawlessly mixes different construction materials (concrete, metal, wood). On the interior, this attention to detail continues as the three materials diminish in harmony with the exterior spaces. Symbolically, the hallways are generously sized in order to favor interactions and friendliness between the different users of the building.
The new Maison du Batîment is equally superior in terms of its green design. It favors, for example, natural ventilation, permitted by innovative parallel openings in the curtain wall that almost completely eliminate the need for air conditioning. “The large overhanging slabs on the south and east and the thick façade in the north and south contribute to the thermic comfort and comfortable lighting. They do this by controlling the solar gains of the building and optimizing the use of artificial light,” specify those at Tetarc.
A Common House
The professional organizations share 710 square meters on a floor and can share a certain number of services and equipment. “After decades as renters of the French Building Federation at Quai de Versailles (their previous address, premises sold to the Lamotte group), we will be co-owners. It is the beginning of the incorporation of our assets,” explains Jean-Philippe Bérard, president of the Fédération du Batîment des Pays de la Loire. The energy efficient building will also house the training institute, IFRB (the Institute of Construction Training and Research), the Club of the federation’s partners (BATIclub), and, beginning in September, the SMABTP (690 m2 on the second floor) and the BTP Bank (380 m2 on the 4th floor.) The ground floor will be dedicated to reception with three meeting rooms, a waiting room, a restaurant, and a hundred-person auditorium.
“Any entrepreneur that comes through the door of this Maison du Batîment will find a wide offering,” remarks Louis Richard, president of the FFB 44, who recently succeeded Jean-Philippe Bérard to become the head of the Regional Federation. Norbert Pinto, Richard’s successor in the FFB 44, hopes to also “put the accent on services for members.” These services range from the classic financial advising, to information about different markets, to social assistance for struggling entrepreneurs with the creation of a committee called “Casques Bleus” (Blue Hard Hats).
For the federation’s partners like Joëlle Monnier, regional director of the Grand Ouest (geographical area of France that encompasses Brittany and Pays de la Loire) of the SMABTP, “This merger is the geographic translation of an everyday reality.” Philippe Ghazarian, director of the Nantes branch of the BTP Bank, expresses the same sentiment. “We will be at the heart of the galaxy of the local BTP and we can therefore bring a complete service to our clients,” explains the banker who financed the construction of the building. Comprising a total sum of 5.3 million euros before taxes (including the property tax), the project mixes three construction materials (concrete, wood, and metal) and was created by fifteen enterprises, all part of the FFB. “It was important for us to have our enterprises participate in this construction, whether that be during the creation of the commission’s new headquarters, the beginning of the call for offers, or the signing of important deals. Also, we, as the contracting authority, wanted to use prices corresponding to the actual market prices,” insists Louis Richard. One way for the FFB to take a step against the abnormally low offers that the organization consistently denounces.
What benefits are there to consolidating related companies in a shared building? Is the Maison du Batîment a model that other government agencies should consider when planning development?
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources. Photos used with the permission of Jean-Philippe Defawe.