Like a second skin

Back in February 2016, architecture agency Denton Associates was commencing work on the renovation of a building at the heart of the London docklands, destined to house a training centre for a business specialising in transport.

Texaa® had just published a catalogue showcasing its new ‘breathing ceiling’, and its launch was accompanied by a full size exhibit of this innovation at a fair for professionals in London. ‘When I handed over a sample of our ‘large knit’ fabric to the architects’, Grégoire Comby, Texaa’s London representative, explains, ‘they immediately picked up on how transparent and light the fabric was. And they immediately saw how useful this would be for the project their team was working on at the time. It all happened very quickly. I was very excited that the breathing ceiling was going to be implemented for the first time! It was a process of discovery for me too and I was curious to foresee the wonderful new horizons opening up before us…’

The question facing the architects was finding a way of integrating disparate technical services (air conditioning, air ducts, lighting fittings, cables etc.) without totally destroying the appeal of the entrance lobby. The answer? Witness the magic of a large knit textile skin through which light effortlessly filters, a skin which respects volumes and functions as a ‘breathing’ ceiling, subtly screening the spaces in which we live and work from the technical service zones above. The resulting effect preserves the height and coherency of the space’s ceiling which is sensitively refashioned by the presence of a partial horizontal skin, suspended at a distance of 1.5 m from the ceiling itself. The skin serves as a sort of canopy which is totally transparent when one stands beneath it and looks directly upwards, but which becomes progressively opaque as the angle of one’s gaze becomes oblique. It also comprises a series of zips, providing access to the equipment placed above, for maintenance purposes.
‘This new way of dealing with the question of ceilings is a source of inspiration for architects’ Grégoire Comby goes on. ‘It gives them ideas!’ And so the adventure continues, and further implementations of the breathing ceiling are currently being worked on or fitted, shedding new light on the system’s full potentiality.

Project name: hall d'accueil d'un immeuble de bureaux

Year to be delivered: 2016

Town-city / Country: Londres, Angleterre

Project owner or contracting authority: Société de transport privé

Architect: Denton Associates

Photographer: Sylvaine Poitau

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