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CEMEX demonstrating the beauty of concrete as a building material in France

Date published: January 8, 2016

CEMEX demonstrating the beauty of concrete as a building material in France

Image: Jean-Pierre Lott

Our team in France has been hard at work demonstrating how beautiful concrete can be, working closely with architects, engineers, and construction crews on stunning buildings that can be called works of art. From a library in Vitrolles to an office building on the banks of the Saône River, each project is as unique as the vision of each architect, and CEMEX stepped up to the challenge to help fulfill that vision.

The contrast between the future multimedia library in Vitrolles and the neighboring buildings is striking. Architect Jean-Pierre Lott – who is known for using raw concrete in his creations – designed this modern building to have an elaborate 8-meter-high concrete wall with undulating curves and punctuated with irregular openings to let in natural light. Building the wall itself was no easy feat - as the mezzanine is designed to be wider than the ground floor, the wall is actually suspended in mid-air, requiring a special structure that had to be built in order to pour the concrete. The architect envisioned the entire wall as one seamless piece, without a construction joint, so three different forms had to be stacked to be able to pour from a height of 9 meters - higher than the wall itself. At this height, the concrete increases the pressure in the formwork and requires very slow, precise pouring.

CEMEX demonstrating the beauty of concrete as a building material in France

Image: Le Groupe Cardinal

Meanwhile in east-central France, architect Rudy Ricciotti's Pavilion 52 office building in the La Confluence neighborhood of Lyon is beginning to take shape. Located on the banks of the Saône River, this 5-story, 7700 m² building defies convention, unfolding in beautiful curving shapes and making ample use of concrete. CEMEX has collaborated with Ricciotti previously on several of his designs, which are known for featuring concrete. The facade of level of the Pavilion 52 building features CEMEX’s horizontal fiber-reinforced concrete slats, and inside, CEMEX concrete is showcased as a smooth finish on all surfaces, rather than hidden under a false ceiling as is sometimes common. The slabs had to be poured with a 58-meter long pump, a rare piece of equipment in France that CEMEX brought in from Paris.

CEMEX demonstrating the beauty of concrete as a building material in France

Image: Fradin Weck Architecture

In the town center of Lyon’s Caluire-et-Cuire community, the future facility that will be part of the Pierre Bourdon sports complex also emphasizes raw materials, especially concrete. Fradin Weck Architecture opted for a minimalist design for this building commissioned by the town’s municipal authority. The architects required flawless color and finishes from the material, so CEMEX worked together with the client to design special solutions that would tackle the architectural challenges of 10-metre-high walls using CEMEX’s raw, white cement. To limit the drop height of the concrete and be able to pour the slab in one pour, CEMEX ordered special sleeves in different lengths and had air-tight short sleeves made to measure in order to avoid air bubbles between the tube and the sleeve.

CEMEX demonstrating the beauty of concrete as a building material in France

Smaller projects have also been made possible through the versatility of CEMEX concrete: in the Ramatuelle community near St. Tropez, CEMEX contributed to a specially designed villa with a unique requirement. Architect Antony Ugo liked the look of wooden walls, but needed to build with a material that could better withstand the damaging effects of sea spray, so CEMEX’s self-tinted architectural concrete was poured into wooden molds to create slabs with an imprint of wood grain. In order to avoid a cookie cutter appearance, every mold was made from a different wooden board which had to be individually sanded down to bring out the wood grain and then coated in hot, liquid wax before pouring. This meticulous process meant that a single, 30 meter wall took five days to complete. A unique custom-made roof made with CEMEX’s high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete completed the villa.

France has a long history on the cutting edge of architecture, and these striking buildings show just what CEMEX concrete is capable of achieving, bringing the architect's vision to reality.

CEMEX is a global building materials company that provides high quality products and reliable service to customers and communities in more than 50 countries. CEMEX has a rich history of improving the well-being of those it serves through innovative building solutions, efficiency advancements, and efforts to promote a sustainable future.

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