Sustainable architecture highlighted by Lafarge at MIPIM

12 March 2007

For the second year running, Lafarge, world leader in building materials, will be exhibiting at MIPIM - the international real estate fair - held from March 13 to 16 at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France.

The fair gives Lafarge the opportunity to unveil the project for a bus center in the town of Thiais, south of Paris. Designed by architects Emmanuel Combarel and Dominique Marrec, from the ECDM agency, it is covered in a Ductal® ultra high-performance concrete skin.

MIPIM is also an opportunity for Lafarge to reaffirm its desire to work in partnership with the world of architecture, collaborating on the design of innovative and sustainable projects.

The thiais bus center - an example of contextual architecture

Paris transport authority RATP, the third-largest transportation organization in the world, will this spring inaugurate its new bus center at Thiais, not far from Orly airport and the French national wholesale food market at Rungis.

The new building represents a dual challenge - it must combine functionality and esthetic appearance within an existing circumscribed space. The building is intended to be open 24/7 for service personnel and drivers, a total of 800 people, and at the same time it will house a security-protected operations center that controls the traffic of 300 buses. Its box volume blends into the local surroundings, actually improving them. The low-rise elevation (two stories) does not make it stand out from the neighboring structures, but gives the impression that the building is emerging from the road.

A Ductal® skin

The building’s effect is obtained by the use of slabs surrounding and enveloping the building which are dressed in Ductal®, an ultra high-performance concrete with exceptional qualities of strength, ductility and longevity. It is also a sustainable material: not only do its thermal properties contribute to reducing a building’s energy consumption, so making it a factor in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but its production consumes less natural resources and energy than conventional concrete, which means lower CO2 emissions linked to its manufacture.

In addition, Ductal® allows remarkable esthetic achievements. It is used here as a key component in the architectural complex - as envelope, cladding and an element linking the building to the ground. The great fluidity of Ductal®, obtained in part by the presence of very fine granular components in the mix, enables it to take on every detail of formwork: the exceptionally smooth surfaces exactly reproduce the texture of molds.

A uniform gray layer with circular studs, like a gigantic Lego baseplate reproduced over and over on the building walls and roof, is fixed like cladding and placed directly on the foundations on the building surround. The upper fins of the structure impart attractive curves, creating a highly harmonious effect.

Four colored areas - blue, green, yellow and orange - decorate apertures opening outwards. Sharply contrasting with the gray of the building, they are an artistic echo of the signs and billboards at the neighboring shopping mall.

Lafarge and architects, building a close and enduring partnership

Architectural projects of this type would not be possible without collaboration with the world of architecture. As world leader in building materials, Lafarge has committed itself strongly to this approach by working with designers and specifiers. This partnership enables it to advance its materials, products, solutions and practical applications thanks to experiments and innovative projects jointly carried out with the Group R&D center, the world’s leading research center in the building materials sector. Through their constructive criticism, architects help the Group develop an increasingly innovative and progressive approach.

Today, Lafarge considers that its responsibility to society must transcend the boundaries of its own industrial sites and extend to the entire value creation chain of the construction industry, from its own suppliers through to its end users. Lafarge can work together with architects, engineers, owners and contractors on more broadly based actions to propose innovative solutions that meet such new priorities as sustainable construction, a concept that aims to reduce the environmental footprint of buildings and improve everyday surroundings.

The concept of the environmentally-friendly Hypergreen tower, developed by architect Jacques Ferrier in partnership with Lafarge and presented at MIPIM in 2006, is an excellent illustration of this. This very tall building is designed to be environmentally compliant not only throughout its entire life, thanks to the use of renewable energy sources and high-performance construction materials, but also during the construction process and its demolition at the end of its life cycle.


Lafarge is the world leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in all of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum. With 71,000 employees in over 70 countries, Lafarge posted sales of Euros 17 billion in 2006.
Lafarge has been committed to sustainable development for many years, pursuing a strategy that combines industrial know-how with performance, value creation, respect for employees and local cultures, environmental protection and the conservation of natural resources and energy. Lafarge is the only company in the construction materials sector to be listed in the 2007 ‘100 Global Most Sustainable Corporations in the World’. To make advances in building materials, Lafarge places the customer at the heart of its concerns. It offers the construction industry and the general public innovative solutions bringing greater safety, comfort and quality to their everyday surroundings.

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