Michelin campus

The architects of the firm Encore Heureux in charge of the rehabilitation of the Michelin Campus, the headquarters of the tyre manufacturer in Clermont-Ferrand, relied on the flexibility of Texaa’s solutions to optimise acoustic comfort in the volumes of this enormous site. Here, the technical performance of Stereo panels and Strato clusters combine with the subtle textures of the fabrics used that let varying degrees of light through.
All this is in line with an architectural style that aims to represent the refreshed image of this internationally recognised company that is nevertheless well rooted in its local territory.

The programme, which concerns this 17-hectare (42-acre) site immediately outside the city centre, is in three parts. First, the construction of an entrance projecting the image of the group and the creation of public spaces to be used as a café, showroom and boutique, then the rehabilitation of 6,000 square metres (64,600 sq. ft) of adjoining office space, and finally the redesign of the public square at the entrance to the Campus, the supervision of which is shared with the Clermont-Ferrand city authorities. “Our job involved very strong underlying challenges related to urban integration and image”, explains Romain Léal of Encore Heureux. The project aims to reflect a change in Michelin’s policies to become more open towards the city and beyond, welcoming its inhabitants and a wide national and international audience. To achieve this, the architects have chosen a transparent construction, revealing its structures and making them stand out more. It is also a way to express the Michelin family group’s industrial identity and its insistence on quality. The volumes are immense and very open. They have been refurbished with discrete taste and elegance. From the acoustic standpoint, the goal was to provide optimal comfort inside for all users of spaces with different functions – showroom, café, meeting rooms, offices, etc. – while observing strict architectural guidelines. This was partially achieved by adapting all non-structural components, but for more complicated issues the designers turned to Texaa solutions and their flexibility and ease of installation, as well as their technical and decorative qualities. Depending on the situation, Stereo panels are scattered or installed in Strato clusters with alternating covers: sound absorbing round knit and partially transparent “breathing” large knit fabrics, depending on requirements.

Acoustics and appearance

“We wanted to leave a clear unadorned view of the materials used: the steel roof members and the wooden floors,” explains Romain Léal, the architect responsible for the project. For example, we inserted mirrors into the cores of the beams, which confront the eye a little and reveal more of the actual structure of the building and the quality of the materials, which was wonderfully reflected by the excellent finish and fabric of the Texaa solutions. In this way in the showroom, by mixing absorber panels with a maille ronde fabric and breather panels with a grande maille ronde fabric in the Strato clusters, we were able to achieve acoustic comfort and conceal ducting and cable trays, while enabling the true structure of the building to show through. And we didn’t depart from the overall aesthetic lines of the project; in fact, we contributed to their expression.” The Strato clusters in the centre of the room have distinctive rounded corners, achieved as a subtle bespoke assembly executed by the locksmith: frames made of steel piping, suspended on metal cables between the load-bearing beams, are covered with grande maille ronde and maille ronde Aeria fabric by Texaa. Then, absorber panels with the same dark grey colour are positioned around the perimeter of the volume to make up the right acoustic absorption area. The designer continues, “In the meeting rooms upstairs in the new building, the requirement for acoustic comfort was even harder to reach. On one hand the reverberation time had to be extremely short and on the other, all discussion had to be made completely confidential. The mustard-coloured Stereo panels suspended from the ceiling brought us up to about 40% of the recommended absorption area without having to resort to concealing the structure or floors, thereby protecting the building’s aesthetics from being interrupted. The overall acoustic solution was completed by installing carpets and acoustic wool inside microperforated wood panelling around the walls. We also used the linear gaps between the ceiling panels to suspend tube lighting to maintain the industrial feel.”

Shining through the mesh of the canopy

In the office areas the Aeria fabric canopy of the Strato clusters is highlighted. “Here, we used the ceiling panels as a decorative feature”, Léal points out. The result can be seen in both the lounge areas on the landings that lead to the open plan areas and over the aisles. “We decided to highlight the central aisle above which the MEP systems run by incorporating the regulatory lighting which shines through the open mesh of the canopy”, he explains. “We also included the emergency exits signs, the movement detectors that switch the lighting on, the smoke detectors and the maintenance access hatches. The finished result is really effective, because we’ve been able to put everything together in one system while creating a continuous visual experience that people really like.” Furthermore, the use of mother-of-pearl-coloured Stereo panels in the café in the reception building applies a similar principle with added acoustic absorption. Installed around the perimeter of the space, again concealing the MEP lines, they include a series of small ambience lights, which they reflect. “When you need to be subtle”, concludes Léal, “the sheer range of products and colours makes it remarkably easy to find things that work. And the solutions are so widely standardised that you can combine products and adapt the whole result to the project in hand.” Sometimes, however, it is a good idea to quit the standard range a little, like for example in the study room used by employees’ children, where the bronze-coloured Stereo panels were especially made to match the geometry of the ceiling. 

Project name: Campus Michelin

Year to be delivered: 2020

Town-city / Country: Clermont-Ferrand, France

Project owner or contracting authority: Michelin

Architect: Encore Heureux + Construire (mandataires) Chef de projet Romain Leal et Manon DOL

Acoustician: Bureau d'étude acoustique Atelier ROUCH

Photographer: Franck Deletang

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