Ductal® concrete embellishes the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the heart of Paris

29 October 2014

LafargeHolcim contributes to making the city of Paris even more beautiful! Thanks to an innovative process, we supplied the only building material capable of achieving the audacious façade of the Fondation Louis Vuitton as dreamed up by architect Frank Gehry: Ductal® ultra-high performance and fiber-reinforced concrete. The result is an architectural masterpiece and a technical prowess enhancing contemporary art.


Concrete: a tailor-made response for this haute-couture design

Façade of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, made of 19,000 Lafarge Ductal® panels.
Lafarge’s Ductal® concrete embellishes the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the heart of Paris

A veritable architectural prowess, the Fondation Louis Vuitton building presented numerous technological challenges that required six years of work by 120 architects and engineers.

Under the flowing glass exterior stands the inner shell of the Fondation Louis Vuitton building. The central “iceberg” designed by Frank Gehry had to be brilliantly white while marrying perfectly with the structure’s shape, and without neglecting its mechanical resistance and durability.

LafargeHolcim participated in this extraordinary adventure and managed to successfully meet the challenges by supplying a building material that met all of the architect’s aesthetic and technical expectations.

“It quickly appeared that Ductal® was the only building material capable of responding to all of the constraints of this exceptional project, in terms of durability, mechanical resistance and the quality of the finish,explains Jean Martin Saint Léon, CEO Ductal® for the Group. Ductal® is indeed able to undergo major deformations without breaking.

A unique molding process

But that is not the only technical challenge presented by the façade of the Fondation Louis Vuitton building. “To perfectly fit the changing shapes of the 9,000 m² façade, 19,000 Ductal® panels had to marry perfectly with the different curves,” added Jean Martin Saint Léon. “Of course it was unthinkable to manufacture 19,000 molds, so we had to be creative!”

To meet the industrial challenge of producing the panels, we developed a vacuum-molding process patented by LafargeHolcim in 2008. The process uses a soft mold capable of adapting to all the different curves, along with a polystyrene form manufactured to the right shape. The results: a unique curve for each panel while allowing Bonna Sabla, our precast partner, to limit the number of molds provided.

When technical innovation meets architectural creativity: the construction of the Fondation Louis Vuitton perfectly illustrates how LafargeHolcim is contributing to more beautiful cities!