Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Administrative building for OEKO-Center in Pfaffenthal, Luxembourg by STEINMETZDEMEYER architects and urban planners
May 25th, 2017 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: STEINMETZDEMEYER architects and urban planners
Next to the elementary school in the Pfaffenthal neighborhood, rue Vauban, the “Centre du Mouvement Écologique” (Ecological Center), known as the “MECO”, was in dilapidated structures, worth of no interest, neither as built heritage, nor as architectural component of urban fabric.
That old structure, having serious problems with stability, moisture and useful surface capacity, has been replaced by a new construction, exemplary for its answers to concerns and questions raised by sustainable development.
Therefore, the decision was made to erect a structure, abiding by environmental and energy values required for the environment.
The new building of the “Centre du Mouvement Écologique” meets the energy criteria of a mixed-use building known as “passive”.
The selection of building materials, the construction itself, the techniques and facilities set up take into account a series of parameters developed in paragraphs relating to environmentalism, energy, stability and outdoor design. This new construction, almost entirely made of solid wood, which only resorts to armored concrete techniques where strictly necessary (escape stairwells and subsurface premises) or to steel construction for long spans, is a pilot project for administrative buildings.
Varied from one floor to the other, the complex organization of the “Centre du Mouvement écologique” gets collected into a sober construction of free and flexible platforms (open space). Each space is partitioned and fitted according to the specific needs of the various departments and positions to be hosted.
In addition to the overall environmental values and concepts resumed in the project as a whole, the MECO structure has been realized following various environmental principles and values. First, the choice of materials, for compounding walls and floors as well as façades and roof coatings, be it from the structural or completion point of view, each material submitted and taken for the realization of the new structure was subjected to indepth comparative surveys and analyses in order to verify its ecological qualities, its environmental, energy and structural impacts.
Each selected material offers favorable and optimal values in terms of life span, making, origin, thermal transmittance quality, implementation, greenhouse gas emission, gray energy consumption, acidification, photo smog, heat release, reuse, etc…
More specifically, this building mainly uses wood for its building shell, completions and external woodworks. The external supporting walls have the traditional supporting-stud kind of wooden building shell; As for floors, they are made of precast slabs with wooden waffle-casings.
This type of casing meets the essential load-bearing and fire-resistance structural criteria and also presents an overall highly positive eco-balance. Technical equipment is partly embedded in these waffle casings and acoustic absorbing panels in the bottom part.
The external walls with a traditional wooden building shell are filled with puffed paper cellulose insulation complemented by wooden fiber insulating panels on the outside. The total insulation thickness is 23, 5 cm. The cellulose insulation is fully natural and offers a high thermal insulation.
The façades display a wood-siding made of native larch wood with FSC label that will naturally turn grey, with time.
External casements are all made of wood and fitted with triple glazing, meeting the passive building requirements. External parapets made of expanded steel are locally fixed to the casements. All windows have external sun-breakers made of rolled material.
On the roof, the wooden floor casings are filled with wood fiber thermal insulation that is reinforced with a 155 mm-thick double insulation of wood fiber panels.
An extensive green roof over waterproofing provides good protection against overheating in the summer and makes up the fifth façade of this building clearly conspicuous from the city heights.
That green roof is another means to increase biodiversity in the city ecosystem, it allow parts of rainwater to evaporate naturally, which results in slowing down rainwater runoffs and reduce the volumes of rainwater rejected in rivers.
Undergrowths and mosses only require little maintenance.
As a conclusion, this new Centre du Mouvement Écologique was built with sound, innovative materials and techniques respectful of the environment and reducing the consumption of resources.
From town planning point of view, its construction materials and volumes stand out but suit the fabric of this historical neighborhood by being predominantly vertical in its apertures.
STEINMETZDEMEYER architects and urban planners
STEINMETZDEMEYER is a multidisciplinary architectural workshop with 40 employees based in Luxembourg: Architects, draughtsman, technicians, office manager, administrative supports, are dedicated to the mastery of a wide diversity of projects.
The characteristics of the workshop’s projects are the scale and the connection to the site, the extensive study of the details and mastery of the materiality of the buildings. The urban component is particularly sensitive and reflections on the layout and structures of urban spaces from the start include reflections on architectural projects.
Completed projects integrate eco-design principles and rational use of energy, which are key considerations for any architectural achievement of our time. Since 1996, when the workshop first began working with sustainable constructions, the workshop acquired a continued research and training in this field. This allows today to design buildings with high environmental quality.