Seeing red in Metz

Friday 26 Sep 2014

Manuelle Gautrand Architecture transforms Galeries Lafayette with pleated red canopy

The Galeries Lafayette department store building has undergone a real transformation following a project by architect Manuelle Gautrand, becoming a symbol of the city centre’s metamorphosis. The scheme looks to reflect on the economic and social changes of the 19th century and the part that department stores have played in this progression of the city. Built in the 1980’s, the building - a true landmark in Metz - had to evolve in order to adapt to the new values of the Galeries Lafayette and to become a reference point, both on a commercial and an architectural level.

Clothed in a stone facade, relatively cold and without any window or opening - except in its lower part - the existing building only had modestly-sized entrances and glazing. In order to transform the image of this building and to turn it into a landmark for passers-by the architect decided to preserve the stone façade with its interesting classical features, and to concentrate on its lower section, closer to where the public circulates.

With the objective to reconnect with the history of the Galeries Lafayette, Manuelle Gautrand chose to create a canopy as a reference to the glassworks that were built in the early 20th century. The project has been organised around this overhanging façade that revisits the symbol of the department stores in a contemporary manner. In a large movement of pleated glass, the canopy runs along the three facades of the building, at a total length of 120m.

To enhance the stone facade the architect chose a red-hued canopy, the width of which varies from 2.3m to 5.3m, with a cantilever of 7.4m; the height from the ground varies from 3.5m at its lowest point to 11m at its highest. Made of tempered and laminated glass, in between which are enclosed four layers of red film - necessary to obtain the intensity of red desired - the canopy, 22mm thick overall, finds a rhythm through a series of folds that are assembled with one another in a large wave-like movement.

The large folding of this canopy, which gives more height and breadth to the lower facades, enables the general proportions of the building to become balanced. The stone is now displayed in more reasonable proportions and is seen through the glass filter, becoming the setting of a new modernity.

A project of lighting and illumination of the façade was specifically developed with the light conception agency ON. At night, the light design reinforces the red colour of the canopy that assures its nocturnal presence, going far beyond a simple ‘staging’. The light continues the architectural gesture when the night falls. 


Client: Citynove for the Galeries Lafayette Group
Architects: Manuelle Gautrand Architecture
Structural and Glass Engineering: TESS
Light Conception Agency: ON
MNE: OTE Ingenierie
Client Assistant: O2C Conseil
Co-ordination: BURO3
Fire and Security Regulations: SOCOTEC
Steel & Glass: VIRY ACML - FAYAT Group
MNE: Eiffage Energie
Lighting: Feerick

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