LafargeHolcim helps sculpt a "tectonic" façade with Agilia® concrete!

28 March 2017

When an architect set out to recreate both the tectonic movements of the Marseille coastline and the spectacular tumbling of a gymnast for the Sablier athletic center, LafargeHolcim’s polished white Agilia® self-placing concrete made his vision spring (or backflip) into life!


The new Sablier athletic center in Marseille, France integrates seamlessly into its surrounding environment. In fact, architect Fabien Geel envisioned creating a building that was reminiscent of the city’s rocky coastline, sculpted by the sea and strong northwesterly winds.

A custom Agilia® formula for unique project specifications

The entire skeleton of the building was poured on-site over 40 days, without a single pre-fabricated element. Architect Fabien Geel wanted to approach the building as if it was a sculpture, allowing the rock-like façade to appear organically formed. A joint decision between the French branch of LafargeHolcim, the architect and the construction company (BEC) was made to opt for the Group’s Agilia® concrete solution.

Only Agilia®’s unique self-placing properties that require no vibration, coupled with its high-quality finish, would allow the project to achieve the desired “sculpted” effect. To ensure total adherence to Geel’s standards for the esthetics and technical execution of the project, Lafarge France drafted project specifications and worked in hand in hand the construction company to:

  • Implement a variety of formwork techniques, from the most traditional to the most recent, to use in building the outer structure
  • Develop a perfect formula of Agilia® concrete that was smooth and elegant but also capable of adding dimension to the building and adapting to the curved terrain

Building a chameleon of polished white concrete

Agilia® not only met the project’s needs in terms of architectural complexity, but also in terms of texture and color. Creating a look and feel that was as close as possible to the rocks of Marseille was very important in capturing the architect’s vision for the building. Agilia®’s versatile esthetic properties were a game-changer.

Fabien Geel appreciated how the material’s appearance transformed depending on the sunlight. "At certain hours of the day, the building is a striking white color that marries beautifully with the deep blue sky. By the end of the day, the façade takes on orange tones. And when sunlight hits its peak, you see notes of yellow and ochre that are typically found in the rock formations in Marseille."


Zoom on Agilia® architectural concrete

Ready to use, ultra-fluid and self-placing, LafargeHolcim’s Agilia® concrete solutions are ideal for highly ambitious architectural projects with creative flair. Agilia®’s unique formula allows it to flow and spread effortlessly and eliminates the need for vibration.

Whether it’s poured on site or used in prefabricated elements, the result is smooth and homogeneous, making it perfect to be left exposed or used in intricate façades that appear hand-drawn. In addition to offering architects the possibility to explore new forms, Agilia® delivers impeccable finishes with a range of textures and color - including the bright white featured in this project!