Location: Montpellier | France Architect: Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas Construction: Cassettes - special construction Processor: Tim Composites / SMAC Toulouse Year of construction: 2012 Material: ALUCOBOND® anodized look C0/EV1 Pictures: Ramón Prat, Barcelona | Moreno Maggi, Rome | Region Languedoc
Covering an area of over 16 500 m² on the edge of Montpelier, the School of Hotel Management crouches like a gigantic reptile. Several different uses are concealed within the building: a hotel, four restaurants, a conference centre, classrooms, student apartments, sports facilities and offices. Fuksas Architects arrange the functions into a variety of free-form reinforced concrete buildings, linking them like jigsaw pieces and connecting them via walkways and a uniform façade. As in other Fuksas projects, they have opted for a façade featuring triangles. With good reason: although lightweight and using the minimum of material triangular elements achieve a maximum load bearing capacity, plus, numerous triangles lined up next to each other create regular curvatures and lengthy spans.
Using triangles is particularly effective if the objective is to create amorphous, free-forms using flat pieces. Buck-minster Fuller was well aware of this. He was the man who introduced the geodetic sphere made from triangles to architecture and who designed fascinating cupola roof supporting structures. The School of Hotel Management’s façade consists of 17 000 triangular ALUCOBOND® tray panels and 5 000 glass panels. The triangles are tilted towards each other at different angles, emphasizing the buildings’ remarkable form. The triangular pieces reflect the daylight like angular scales and, depending on the degree of inclination, light flashes from individual scales. In the interior, the inter-action between the slanting surfaces of the structure and the angular, polygonal glazed surfaces is fascinating. The façade grid plays a structural role but an even greater design one. It infuses the reptile with distinct vitality.