Marseille, France, 2012-11-08 -
The headquarter of the International SETEC, located in Vitrolles in the south of France, formerly EPAREB (Etablissement Public d’Aménagement des Rives de l’Etang de Berre) was built in several phases.
Firstly, in the 70s, Jean Prouvé implemented “Petroff system” developing a three-dimensional structural steel sheet and plexiglass panels on the front. This device would allow to cover a large area without increasing the bearing points, which in turn was covered by aluminium stiffeners attached to the work front.
As an engineer, architect, metal-worker and designer, Jean Prouvé introduced technological advancements in fabrication to the construction of architecture. In 2011, for the design of a new adjacent office building, the same criteria of economy, flexibility, quality of light and material efficiency were explored as inspirations for design, to explore material through various solutions.
The projected volume is a parallelepiped located on a slope, on the property line and perpendicular to the limit. An overhang adjacent to existing and project buildings can join and create a link between the covered buildings.
The building consists of a set level partly buried concrete on which is placed a floor office metal frame.
Constraints such as budget, space requirements, and possible future programmatic variation called for an exploration of the building skin. Various screens were tested for their structural and daylighting qualities. The flexibility of the open plan would allow the structure to be easily adapted to residential use.
Natural lighting is prefered, facades exposed are protected by a large overhang. This sunscreen is made of white bright resin panels. The final device is the result of several proposals presented to client from contemporary reference, from Mathieu Mategot to the Fernand Pouillon arcade revisited.
The repeated arches act as a simplified form to easily suggest or emulate the effect of a pine forest canopy similar to that surrounding the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence. Cost and aesthetic, normally acting in opposition to each other, are able to become singular in an emulation of Prouvé’s process. The resulting design aims to stand complimentary to, not in contrast to, the existing building, emulating Prouvé’s process in order to marry style and economy.
Benjamin Sériès, Partner, holds a professional Bachelor of Architecture degree from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Marseille.
In 2004, he formed firm Series et Series in Marseille with Thomas Sériès, whose other offices are located in Paris and Los Angeles. From private residential and institutional buildings, large and small scale, to establishments open to the public, he practices in all areas of architecture. Argumentation and communication project from genesis to the implementation of the work, quality of uses and attention to architectural detail are the leitmotifs of his process work.
Thomas Sériès, Partner, holds a professional Bachelor of Architecture degree from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Marseille. At the firm Labtop he dedicated himself to the specific issue of visual translation in architectural building through the promotion of the project through 3D artwork and video. This specialization, along with teaching at École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, allowed him to witness and participate in the creative process of projects ranging from the creative with OMA and BIG, to the efficient and professional with KPF and SOM. Learning from these collaborations, he was driven to examine new fields, and formed firm Sériès et Sériès to further explore and build his own vision of architecture.
“The intention behind all of our proposals is to create enthusiasm in the city, it is work that needs to be explained. We address the design of the city; this is an approach that requires us to look further than the construction of buildings. Intervention in the urban landscape must accommodate the behaviours of all of society.
The relationship between architecture, economy, culture and behaviour, and nesting are central to our thinking of each project. It is a communicative creativity that we seek in our proposals. Passed through the filter of all the constraints of use, safety, and technicality, we ultimately propose an architecture that does not seem laborious, but which can generate courage, desire, and connection.
To create accidents in the city is to create benchmarks. It is envisaged as a moving portrait, with its projections of architecture characterized and recognizable by the emotions they invoke. The value of architecture other than its physical performance can be found in an emotion that will be accessible to everyone.
We envision contemporary architecture as a result of discussions between different environments/characters. In conceptual discussion we put ourselves in danger, we must put in continuous effort to defend and convince; meanwhile, the project builds itself from these confrontations. Communication and explanation are aspects of process that we do not neglect.
The problem of speech and exchange arises from strategy, it is through communication and explanation of the project that the architect can afford expression beyond specifications. Architectural design is no longer just an explicit tool provided to the user, but becomes a real engine. Only the clearest expression of a concept allows a pure interpretation. »
SETEC international office building extension to a Jean Prouvé office existing building
5 chemin des gorges de Cabriès 13127 Vitrolles (Bouches-du-Rhône) / France
SCI Inter Bureaux
SÉRIÈS ET SÉRIÈS architects
10 Bureaux + Archives
Delivery February 2012
330 000€ HT.
PHOTOS CREDITS ©Sériès et Sériès