La Filature office complex - Rouen (Francia)

A truly illuminated construction

Eye-catching and sustainable, the new offices of the Matmut insurance group are a fascinating addition to the architectural panorama of Rouen
Roberta Chionne
Julien Tragin

Inaugurated in November 2017, the Filature complex in Rouen can be described as „illuminated“ for a number of reasons. It is flooded by natural light during the day and targeted by multicolour lights at night. It also provides a pleasant place of work and is France’s first service sector building to be „Passivhaus“ certified. Passivhaus environmental certification was first introduced in Germany in 1988 but has since been adopted by numerous countries. It was specified as one of the project’s design requirements by the client, Matmut, an insurance group that covers the whole of France and boasts over 3 million members and policy holders.
Matmut has been based in Rouen since 1962. After extending its own headquarters in 2011, the group commissioned the construction of the Filature building as home to Cardif Iard, a new company formed by Matmut and BNP Paribas. The two buildings stand one opposite the other in Rue de Sotteville. Both were designed by the Artefact studio, though obviously at different times.
The refurbishment of the group’s headquarters required the design of a complex capable of harmoniously blending the original building with the new extension. The aim was to create an environment that was advanced in terms of comfort and respectful of human needs. The chosen design was inspired by Matmut’s mutual aid principles as a way of conveying the group’s dynamism and rigor.
Though based on architectural principles similar to those of the group’s HQ, the new Filature building is no mere copy. The aim was to create glass façades capable of revealing the work done during the day in complete transparency, reflecting the outside world and enhancing the group’s corporate image. The first curve in the building’s exterior was actually dictated by a desire to save a rare Himalayan cedar, but the design was subsequently remodelled to extend this sense of fluidity. Destined to house 10,000 sq.m of office space in a total floor space of 17,500 sq.m, and divided into 15 open-space floor platforms of 700 sq.m each, plus 10 meeting rooms, the Filature building develops around a central ground floor atrium that rises for a number of levels and serves as a meeting place and the heart of the building. Natural lighting and connections between the floors are provided by generous light wells that house suspended staircases with slender, transparent handrails. These large vertical passages create an impression of openness, dynamism and light and contribute to achieving some of energy performance targets demanded by the Passivhaus protocol, which is based on the use of passive heat from the sun, natural cooling systems, efficient insulation, the absence of thermal bridges, and controlled ventilation. Excellent energy performance is further guaranteed by 3,500 sq.m of triple glazed facades with solar shading for controlling the level of interior light.
Over 25 French companies were involved in the construction of the Filature, but the company selected to design the interior coverings was Italian. The floors of the central atrium, the communicating passages, stairways and other rooms are finished in Industrial series porcelain tile by Floor Gres (made in Florim), inspired by the texture of concrete. This material combines excellent technical performance with a striking appearance and gives a clear sensation of rigour while adding to the continuity of light and space that characterises the building as a whole.

60x120, 20x80 cm

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