LAN Architecture EDF Archives Centre Bure, France

Photography: Architecture Lab
Date: September 18, 2016

Within the framework of the Meuse and Haute Marne economic support programme, EDF has decided to centralise all its intermediary Engineering Production Management archives in Bure. Until now, these paper copy archives had been stored in nuclear, hydraulic and thermal production units, as well as in engineering units and associated services. As well as being spread over several sites, they were also handled in different ways. It had therefore become necessary to group them to rationalise and optimise the archiving functions: sorting, indexing, management and access.

Over and above the functional aspect needed to manage the archives, this was also a strategic project providing a positive social and environmental impact on the region. This led us to work closely with local elected representatives on the economic aspects, the creation of jobs in the region as well as in the village itself, and on the architectural characteristics. The building needed to be able to fully integrate into the landscape as well as meet environmental quality standards, an aspect now fundamental to EDF’s building strategy. The objective is to obtain an energy-efficient building through the use of an intelligent morphology, a high performance skin, choice of adapted systems and the production of renewable energy. Wastewater management will reduce the ecological footprint and contribute to a symbiosis between the building and its environment. The principles underlying our approach were to compress and minimise impacts.

Consequently, we directed our research towards a five level, 19 m high building with an archives area covering approximately 1,400 m² and a total surface of approximately 7,000 m².

This approach results in:

1) considerable saving in terms of the building’s envelope,
2) improved functionality translated by a reduced number of kilometres covered per year,
3) a marginal impact on the landscape (with view points at a considerable distance from the building),
4) the possibility of a maximum use of the excavated land around the building’s footprint to control water recuperation and treatment on the site,
5) an energetically and environmentally extremely high performance building,
6) the creation of a symbol representative of the approach taken by the Meuse and Haute Marne economic support programme.

An archives storage building needs to have a considerable inertia and is thus “heavy”. The need for fast and simple site management and optimum storage efficiency led us to develop a simple and rational layout complying with the logic of a project that is both bunker-like and, in itself, an industrial process. The question was how to integrate lightness into a massive object? How to avoid interrupting the continuity of the natural landscape? Firstly, by paying particular attention to the building’s envelope. To give the impression of a lightweight building in movement, we proposed incorporating stainless steel studs into the earth-coloured concrete cladding.

This solution had the effect of blurring the building’s limits and reflecting the surrounding colours and changing seasons. The building has a very high performance envelope resulting from the materials employed and the technology used for attaching the concrete facing (reduced thermal bridges). The combination of two layers of concrete (structure + facing) and insulation (30 cm) ensures that the building has a high level of inertia favouring comfort during the summer and reduces cooling requirements. The site is isolated and has no sewerage treatment network.

Consequently a low-cost natural wastewater system will be installed to meet the building’s needs: sewerage, wastewater and rainwater treatment. As well as ensuring the building’s autonomy, the system will respect the environment by its complete integration into the site’s landscape while providing the efficient elimination of nitrogen (70%), phosphorus (60%) and pathogens. The choice made for the ventilation was to use a double flow ventilation system with heat recuperation. This limits energy consumption resulting from heating and ensures the good sanitary quality of the air. Low voltage luminaires will result in considerable savings in terms of internal loads. Storage areas will be equipped with presence detectors. The high performance of the envelope combined with economic ventilation and lighting systems reduces energy requirements. The use of renewable energies and a heat pump will result in a high level of energy autonomy. The total power consumed by the building represents 29 kWh/m².

The building is also designed to be able to easily incorporate a future extension to the east without disturbing the rest of the site. All that is needed is to extent the main transversal axis of the storage rooms to serve the future archives; a shaft for a future goods lift is also provided. Elevations specifications: Stainless steel studs (7 cm diameter and 1 mm thick) will be incorporated into the formwork during the casting of the integrally coloured prefabricated concrete elevation panels. A system of fixing ties holding the studs in position during the casting operation will be used to ensure that the studs and concrete are flush with one another. The elevations will incorporate a total of 100,000 stainless steel studs. The panels will be 15.42 m high and either 2.27 m or 2.34 m wide depending on whether they are on the long or short side of the building. The 8 cm thick panels will be reinforced with concrete ribbing (+ 7 cm). The complex will be suspended from reinforced concrete walls and held in position using distancing jacks. The elevations will have a total thickness of 68 cm.

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