BURE (FR) - Even before completion, the EDF Archives Centre, designed by French architects LAN, was a much-awarded project. Thanks to its high energy efficiency and the environmental techniques employed, the project garnered several prizes, including the Archibau Award 2008 (in the 'Green Building' category) and the International Architecture Award of the Chicago Athenaeum and the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies. The client, EDF, as one of the world's biggest nuclear energy companies, had a reputation to maintain regarding the energy balance of their new archives building. With its integrated services engineering and an annual energy consumption of 29 kWh/m2, the archives centre is rated a 'very low energy building'.
But what attracts even more attention is the facade, designed and patented by LAN. The archives, containing EDF's industrial records on paper and microfilm, is a simple cube that rises almost 20 metres above the gently rolling landscape of the Haute Marne, with its rust-coloured earth and pale yellow fields. To avoid the building looking like an alien in that landscape, LAN architects came up with a facade that reacts, chameleon-like, to the surrounding landscape, the weather and the seasons. The building is clad with ochre-coloured concrete panels, 2.3 metres wide and an impressive 15.65 metres high. Embedded in these prefab panels are some 120,000 stainless steel studs, each seven centimetres in diameter. Before the concrete was poured into the moulds, the steel studs were arranged by hand in a pattern reminiscent of the pixelated skin of a chameleon. The steel studs reflect light conditions and seasons, and the earthy tones of the surrounding landscape.