Architectural nude mode

Location: Parc des Expositions de Villepinte, Paris
Designer: Architects: RFR Ingénieurs Consulting Engineers, Paris; RFR (Peter Rice, Martin Francis, Ian Ritchie) arch. Matthieu David, paysagiste Jacquiline Waechter
Project: Intervention on pavilion 5 of the "Parc des Expositions Villepinte"
Project period: 1999
Client:SIPAC
Facade structure: Stabalux, Palladio SpA, San Biagio di Callalta, Treviso
Steel window-and-doorframes: Dutemple SA, Paris
How can we transform a large space, with a structure similar to a large hangar, into a place fit for holding fashion parades, exhibitions and cultural events?

How can we transform a large space, with a structure similar to a large hangar, into a place fit for holding fashion parades, exhibitions and cultural events?
The answer was neither simple nor immediate but analysed and studied at length through a continuous and useful research process of comparison with the context in which to work. The traces of this metamorphosis can be found inside the guidelines of the project that the Anglo French studio RFR followed for the entire intervention on pavilion 5 of the “Parc des Expositions Villepinte”, north of Paris. The essential lines, the predominance of light, the use of a limited range of materials: mainly glass and steel, are the main guiding criteria used to uncover the refinement of this new space for communications and culture.
The surface that was involved is around 3,500 sq.mt., inside a total exhibition area of 35,00 sq.mt.
Inside a closed courtyard, there used to be a completely opaque structure in the centre that made the surroundings even more austere, with no chance of seeing the structure behind it.
The aim of the project was to give unit to the whole, increasing its value, transforming the heart of the composition into a transparent open element, that brought in light and gave a human dimension to the inside of this enormous structure.
In place of the original opaque curtain walls, a superb facade has been made in glass and steel, using T profiles rigidly joined to the mullions of the structure – which carries the airiness of the inside space to the outside, which before was not directly visible.
The use of T profiles with their reduced visual impact, good inertia levels, ease of use and economy in assembly, fully satisfied the requests of the spescification, covering considerable multi-storey heights, without any intermediate anchoring points.
The intervention required detailed planning for the hooking points of the facade to the existing structure, each choice made to guarantee excellent soundproofing and heat insulation.
Two covered passages have been joined to the pavilion, made using hardened transparent glass panels.
The interesting factor of this work is mainly the “almost minimalist” use of construction techniques and the choice of materials: bearing facades with steel skeletons, insulating glass panes fitted directly onto the metal structure.

Marina Cescon
Acciaio Arte Architettura 51