The architectural office Lacombe and Florinier decided to emphasise the useful and public character of the building with pure lines and a partially transparent facade. Ornamentation and detail were kept to an absolute minimum.

Lacombe and Florinier designed two parallelepipedal (three-dimensional figures formed by six parallelograms) shapes with a large central patio. Natural light floods most parts of the building through this open area. From the street the building appears to be two volumes which seem to jut into the street thanks to a recessed entry area.

A significant challenge was the local streetscape which includes buildings of different heights and shapes. By following the slope of the road, the MCEF building integrates and links the different levels of the surrounding built environment.

The client had specified that the different spaces should have as much natural light as possible. While the central patio answers part of this brief, Lacombe and Florinier also specified perforated zinc sheets for the front. This lets natural light pass through, while emphasising the public nature and monolithic aspect of the building.

VMZ Corrugated zinc profile panels from Umicore’s VMZ PROFILE range were specified for the exterior cladding due to their durability and high corrosion resistance. The facade panels feature a fine undulating sine-wave pattern which is 18 millimetres deep.

On the street facade, VMZ PROFILE SINUS PERFORATED panels were attached to a metal frame. Lacombe and Florinier specified that the zinc cladding should not overlap, to maintain transparency and light penetration. This technical choice required the builder to cut each plate to size onsite. As well as natural sunlight, the perforated panels offer visual comfort for the building’s occupants and help to maintain the interior at a comfortable temperature throughout the year.

VMZ PROFILE SINUS FULL panels were attached to vertical supports on the solid parts of the exterior walls. The zinc panels were pre-painted in Pigmento® Red Earth – the same colour as the facade. The colour adds depth to the building, although the corrugations ensure the level of contrast changes depending on the sunlight angle and the overlay of shadows from adjacent structures. By using the same monochrome palette on the facades and opaque sides, the monolithic effect of the structure is reinforced and significantly exaggerated.

The Maison Commune Emploi Formation received a Special Mention in the Public Building category of the 6th annual ArchiZinc Trophy awards.

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