Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
l’Ecole des Beaux Arts de Versailles Complements Historic Versailles, France
February 3rd, 2011 by Susan Smith
In the town of Versailles, France, much of the architecture stands as it was hundreds of years ago, when Louis XVI surveyed the streets from the windows of his vast château. That all changed recently when Platane Beres and his team at Platane Architecture won a competition to transform a building in the heart of this quaint town. Called l’Ecole des Beaux Arts de Versailles or The Versailles School of Fine Arts, this space is located less than 500 meters from The Château of Versailles.
Architect: PLATANE & ILIĆ associés www.platane.net; Platane Architecture founded in 1995 by Platane Beres
Design Software: Nemetschek Vectorworks
l’Ecole des Beaux Arts de Versailles project length of time to completion: 18 months
Beres and his team took on the challenge of updating the 300 square meter Sculpture and Painting Department’s façade and opening it up to the town, while still retaining a historic feel to the building. Since many of the buildings are sheathed in stone, Beres included stone—but used it in an entirely different way, putting his indelible mark on the town. His vision was to suspend six 2 x ½ meter, two-ton rectangles of stone from a hidden steel structure to create the illusion that they were floating. And he envisioned these large blocks of stone to be splayed with bubble-like protrusions.
Without the Building Information Modeling (BIM) process, Beres would not have been able to realize his vision to create such a unique and difficult structure. With it, he was able to go directly from concept to manufacturing, and bring the distinctive, freeform elements of the building to life.
Beres and his team rented a five-axis CNC milling machine; this was the first time in Europe that a computer-controlled mill was used to carve stones for a modern project. Beres tested exporting STL (stereo lithography) files from several BIM packages, and found the Vectorworks functionality worked best. With the unique ability to transfer the data to the CNC driver and directly fabricate large, heavy stones, the team saved the town a significant amount of money, since hiring a stone carver would have cost three times more—and taken much longer. From start to finish, it was an 18-month project. The firm also cut its costs by creating the construction documentation directly from the model, integrating coordinated plans, sections, elevations, and 3D views. This reduced time and expenses by an additional 30 percent.
For the Versailles project, Beres modeled everything in 3D. Beres used the dynamic solids, surface, and NURBS tools to design the stones, and the Boolean operations to create the spaces between the steel and the stones. He and his team also used the Drape Surface command to create the freeform protrusions by dropping a sheet onto the bubbles. Their favorite thing about this project was its incredible precision. “Thanks to the CNC milling machine, we could create the shapes of the large, heavy stones so precisely that they could sit on top of each other, just 5mm apart,” remarks Beres.
Platane Architecture recently took the coveted cover of Architectural Digest, and their work has also graced the pages of Mark and many other highly respected architectural publications. Founded by Beres in 1995, the architectural firm is based in Paris, but its designs reach across all of France, focusing on public projects such as schools, libraries, and homes for youths, as well as private homes.
Contact Platane Architecture
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