The "Tchécoslovaquie" building,
in the Malakoff district of Nantes (France)
In France, where a large stock of social housing was built between the 1950s and the 1970s, External Thermal Insulation using wall-mounted cladding has been used since the 1980s. Massive tower blocks served as life-size laboratories for materials, techniques and cladding. After experimenting with coloured composite resin panels and various plasters, today architects and their clients are using higher quality materials that are not necessarily more expensive than other solutions!
The Tchécoslovaquie building, a long curved collective housing tower block in Nantes, illustrates how zinc can give character and style to renovated buildings. The design created by the Nomade architects studio explores relief: with its folds and play on colours, the cladding distinguishes itself from the flat volume of the building and introduces a new dimension.
Architect: Nomade Studio
Design assistance office: Isateg Atlantique
Client: Nantes Habitat
Contractor: Gautier Entreprise
Technique: VMZ Standing seam
Surface aspect: QUARTZ-ZINC
and PIGMENTO green
The Tchécoslovaquie tower block is 100 metres long and 10 storeys high and is unusual in that it is built in the form of a “banana” giving a rather dynamic appearance to this block of 176 housing units. The objective of the renovations, apart from improving the comfort of residents, was to reduce heat loss and dampness by externally insulating the buildings. © Luc Boegly
For Vincent Le Garrec, an associate with Nomade, no camouflage could have erased the massive appearance of the building. Rather than trying to divide the volume, he proposed animating it with a zinc skin. © NOMADE Architectes
Zinc was chosen for several reasons: durability, maintenance-free for approximately 50 years, malleability, making it possible to design specific details – in this case the relief effects on the cladding, originality of the application - making the metamorphosis of this building, in a rapidly changing neighbourhood, highly visible.
Several oblique (rather than horizontal) cross sections, alternation of surface aspects (QUARTZ-ZINC and PIGMENTO green) in various centre distance widths (25, 33 and 43 cm), adding a touch of colour so that changes in light and shadows animate the building throughout the day: every possible effort was made to play down the massiveness of the building.
The relief effects animating the facade extend over a height equivalent to two storeys, compulsory for ventilated cladding to comply with fire regulations.
According to Vincent le Garrec, using zinc was not more expensive than using another cladding solution because he only used standard coil widths, taking into account traditional standing seam installation. “And even if it were more expensive, the material is extremely durable”, stresses the architect.© Luc Boegly