In Silicon Valley in France, an adjustable and transparent building fits in

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In Silicon Valley in France, an adjustable and transparent building fits in


Lucio, a new office building designed by Barbarito Bancel Architects in Lille, France Courtesy of Alessandra Chemollo


In a predominantly glass structure, temperature control is notoriously problematic. Yet at a start-up business campus on the banks of the Deûle in Lille, France, a new office building with a reflective double-skin facade can operate most of the time without air conditioning, maintaining thermal comfort even in summer. .

Formerly the home of the Le Blan-Lafont weaving mill, and with a picturesque steeple among exquisite 18th century brick factory buildings, the 860,000 square foot Lille campus in the culturally famous university town for its historic townhouses and cobbled streets today have a reputation for being a cutting-edge startup center. It is one of the four countries managed by EuraTechnologies, an incubator and accelerator of technological entrepreneurial projects that offers tailor-made support to some 300 technology companies and 4,500 employees. Throughout the year, the campus hosts events promoting entrepreneurial success in tech – think of a match-maker night called “Find Your Co-Founder” or a forum hosted by the CEO of a company. cybersecurity company.

When a design competition was launched to add a 15th building to the campus, Paris-based Barbarito Bancel Architects have already found themselves on the shortlist, along with two other architectural practices. “The client had seen photos of our flagship product Dior in the Miami Design District,” reveals co-founder Benjamin Bancel. (In a dense cluster of luxury boutiques, Barbarito Bancel’s Miami building stands out with its sculptural facade of white concrete panels.)

The southwest facade of Lucio, a new office building on the Lille campus of EuraTechnologies, incubator and accelerator of technological entrepreneurial projects. Courtesy of Alessandra Chemollo


Calling for transparency, assured thermal comfort and open workspaces, the brief was a challenge. The site, located in the large entrance plaza of the campus, was exclusive, but also without shading from adjacent buildings. “We started to think of a double skin of glass, with the first layer as a kind of sun shade or sunscreen,” explains Barcel.

For their winning proposal, Barcel and co-founder Ivana Barbarito turned to new laminated and treated glass technology and designed the 16,000 square foot Lucio building with a vertical louver system that varies across all four facades.

Grouped and tilted according to the position of the sun, each of the glass louvers is made up of two sheets of Diamant – an extra clear glass with less green undertones due to the low iron content. The layers are less than half an inch thick.

With striking reflective surfaces interacting with the sky, weather, and the brick and birch buildings of the surrounding historic plaza, the louvers control solar gain to maintain optimum temperature and light levels. “We were able to give a high quality of light to workspaces,” notes Bancel.

3926 Alessandra Chemollo 2010

The architects designed a variable louver facade that maintains thermal comfort during the warmer months. Courtesy of Alessandra Chemollo


In tune with the sun, the southwest and northwest facades in double skin glass are more exposed to daylight, while the southeast and northeast facades in opaque polished glass and aluminum are less so. Resting on a precast concrete base, the building rises to four stories and appears to taper to its roof level – a slimming illusion gleaned from the reduced height of the top story and the louvers shrinking from 12 to eight feet in height. length as the building rises.

At just 70 feet by 55 feet, Lucio is compact – “a little jewelry box,” comments Barcel. Pre-stressed concrete slabs reinforced with steel cables conceal a cooling, ventilation and heating system and replace columns, allowing widely open and flexible workspaces.

Like many fresh and original ideas, the design required some explanation. “At first, everyone was very skeptical,” Bancel admits. It’s a struggle that a startup community is familiar with.



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