GRAAM Architecture wraps Burgundy office building in timber exoskeleton and “glass veil”

Shortlisted in the Commercial Buildings category of the Dezeen Awards 2022, a glazed skin hangs from a wooden exoskeleton in this office building in France by French firm GRAAM Architecture.

The seven storey building completed for the Caisse d’Epargne banking group in Dijon, Burgundy was designed to provide airy, flexible and naturally lit workspaces that meet passive house requirements of no more than 15 kWh/m2 per year.

Built on a concrete podium with garage space above its sloping site, GRAAM Architecture’s design was informed by a desire to use locally sourced materials and companies.

Exterior view of the Caisse d'Epargne Bourgogne Franche Comté headquarters
The office building in Burgundy was designed by GRAAM Architecture

“Located on the heights of Dijon in Burgundy, a few meters from the tram stop, the building consists of seven floors, allowing it to be seen from afar from the city’s dual carriageway,” the practice said.

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“Its wood structure reflects the local resources of the Burgundy region, which has a reputation for deciduous and softwood forests,” she continued.

The timber structure of the building prioritizes the use of traditional beam and beam techniques, with concrete and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) used only where required e.g. B. for floors and stair and elevator cores.

Exterior detail of the street-side entrances at the Caisse d'Epargne Bourgogne Franche Comté headquarters
The building contains a wooden exoskeleton

To liberate the interior spaces, the structure is supported by an exoskeleton made of wooden struts, whose upper beams serve to hang the outer “glass veil” shell, supported by secondary steel elements.

The choice of materials means that the structure can be built entirely using the dry method, with the concrete elements being precast before being brought to the site.

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“The project corresponds to the desire for exemplaryity, modularity and intelligence,” says the practice.

“[It is] designed with a wooden structural skeleton, precast concrete floors and a wooden exo structure covered with a double glass skin,” she continued.

“The building enables the bank to participate in environmental causes by displaying its exemplary and unique nature without the ostentation.”

Exterior view of the glass facade of the Caisse d'Epargne Bourgogne Franche Comté headquarters
The exterior is clad in a double glass skin

At the base of the structure, thin white steel columns support the building’s outer structure and create a small sheltered area around the perimeter of the building, extending onto a terrace created by the concrete base and lined by a metal balustrade.

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Inside, thin, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows on each floor flood the office space with natural light, and the spacing of the wooden columns allows for the easy addition of partitions.

Interior view of a room lined with wooden columns in the office in France
The interior space has been designed to be partitioned and organized to best suit its users

“The space can be partitioned to create workspaces for specific departments, or rented to another company if needed,” the practice says.

Among the other buildings shortlisted in the Dezeen Awards 2022 Commercial Buildings category is Studio Saar’s Sanand Factory in India, which aims to enhance otherwise typical factory structures with thoughtful details.

Photograph by Nicolas Waltefaugle.

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