Paris Préfecture de Police HQ & Kerto® LVL.
A new reception building is being built for the police headquarters in the heart of Paris with the timber frame structure for the building being made from Kerto® LVL.
The structure is made up of 30 Kerto® LVL timber frames, which make the building’s long span lengths and large interior spaces possible. The construction site is surrounded by protected buildings, which means that foundation work had to be kept to a minimum. The pre-fabricated frame elements were brought to the site when the roads were quiet and were erected during the day.
“A wooden structure was chosen because it is light and can be built quickly,” explains architect Fabienne Bulle. “Construction based on wooden elements significantly reduces construction time and the light wood can be handled onsite without the need for heavy machinery, minimising the drawbacks caused by building in a busy city centre.
In France, Fabienne Bulle is known for promoting timber architecture, and she wants to increase the use of wood in both public and urban construction. “When you use Kerto® LVL, you can do more than just add floors to the roof of the building; you can create more distinctive architecture. It works well with long span lengths and is therefore ideal for building covered colonnades.”
Bulle first started using Kerto® LVL 15 years ago in two care homes for disabled people in Normandy. Now she is using it, in addition to the reception building, in an extensive school project in Northern France. “Kerto® LVL is attractive because of its technical properties and aesthetic qualities. As we wanted wood to be a powerful presence in the care home, we made the frames from our own arrangement drawings in a more imaginative way than would have been possible with traditional timber.
“Our first use of Kerto® LVL was made up of large trapezium profiles, which we cut into pieces to let light into the building. Kerto® LVL is light and thin and it is easy to work, which makes its use very interesting. You have to know how to listen to the material. In addition to its technical properties, it is very versatile.
Bulle started using wood for making furniture, after which she moved to construction, and support structures in particular. “For me, it was quite easy to see how wood can be used in construction. You have to be careful when using wood because any defects will show: other materials conceal much more. Building with wood can be a holistic process, starting from structural decisions.
“I have been building out of wood for the last 30 years, and environmentalism for me means both ‘localness’ and eco-friendliness. Even before people were talking about carbon dioxide emissions, we talked of dry building. When I made my first houses from local wood, the aim was to keep the construction chain dry and save time in building.”
Bulle, who has won several architectural competitions, wants to update wood and adapt it to modern architecture instead of just seeing it in its traditional role. “The breakthrough of wooden architecture has required us to change the popular and traditional image of wood. France was, after all, originally built from wood. We have now been able to prove that wood is a competitive material, and finally building contractors are willing to use it and even request in tenders architects who know how to use wood.”
To view full article, go to issue 6