The image of Rossignol, a historic leader in the world of skiing, is intimately linked to the mountains and to snow. The project for its global headquarters has nothing to do with the stereotypical office building, but is a tribute to nature and to the peaks, but also to technology, which is inseparable from top-level sport. The plot stands in the middle of a plain surrounded by mountains. It is a stretch of former farmland, marshy and perfectly flat, bounded on the northern side by the Lyon-Grenoble motorway. The architecture has been designed specifically for Rossignol, a fusion of the company’s functional and fantasy aspects, in a surprising and minimalist form: it is inspired by board sports, by fluidity of motion, and also by relief, snow and glaciers sculpted by the elements. The roof, which envelops the whole project, is topography in osmosis with nature and the landscape. Its organic, timber-clad shape echoes the profile of the mountains that surround the site.
In order to create the “House of Rossignol”, the Rossignol Group will be assembling on these site different entities that are currently spread over several locations, but which all contribute to the company’s identity.
The roof covers three types of space:
– The racing ski production workshop, the brand’s technological showcase, and technical rooms, all grouped alongside the motorway.
– The office floors, which include the administrative and sales departments, R&D, research and design, etc.
– The street, spectacular and bright, the space of social encounter, which crosses the building from side to side. At its end, the street widens to become the showroom.
On the motorway side, the facade creates a kinetic and dynamic effect reinforced by the repetition of the logo, which appears gradually. The front of the building rises to form a roof over the workshops and then on to the apex, and descends again on the south-western side to cover the office area. It is then intercut with patios planted with birch trees that seem to grow through the roof: nature and building intertwine. The irregular profile of the roof and office facades leaves the opportunity for future extensions as required. Additions can be built without disrupting the balance and identity of the project. From the start, the architecture embodies its own growth process. The roof ridge, with a glasshouse running along it, is situated above the street, a high-level space giving onto the “high-altitude restaurant”, the highest point of the structure, which refers to ski slope restaurants.
Inside, the building functions like a “hive” in which the different functions come into contact and interact, where people enjoy the experience of working together and meeting each-other. The originality of the programme is that it assembles very different functions, from production to services, under a single roof. The aim of this assembly is to create a global synergy which eliminates barriers between design, service and technology. Each person in their own diversity – engineer, designer, technician, secretary, salesman, etc. – meets in a reciprocal encounter. To encourage this internal communication, social spaces are distributed around the building. The restaurant, situated right at the top and at the gravity centre of the street, is designed as the primary locus for the company life: two great glass-roofs divide up the panoramic views to the sky and the mountains, on one side to the Vercors and on the other to the Chartreuse. A large roof terrace is available for alfresco lunching, protected from the noise of the motorway. Whether on the terrace or around a wooden fire, the restaurant turns the midday break into a special moment.
Only two materials are used for the external envelope: wood (natural larch) and glass. The structure is made of steel, like an organic skeleton that outlines the shape, with its multiple warped surfaces. The roof frame is visible in the workshop and offices. The post and beam frame of the service floors straddles spans of 12 to 15 metres to leave the space as free as possible. The workshop space has a primary horizontal roof overlaid by the timber over-roof, creating a hidden space between the two which contains all the technical systems and machinery. This means that no technical elements are visible from the outside; therefore the external shape is pure.
The building is designed for minimal environmental impact. The technical choices make it an efficient and energy-saving building, well insulated and protected from the summer sun by the timber over-roof. The systems are optimised – the heat produced by the workshop machines is recovered and re-injected into the heating network. The offices receive natural ventilation through automatic window opening.
Location: Centr’alp 2 – La Buisse – Saint Jean de Moirans (38)
Client: Skis Rossignol SAS
Project management: Hérault Arnod Architectes
Jérôme Moenne-Loccoz (project manager), Alexandre Pachiaudi, Camille Bérar, Nicolas Broussous, Matthias Jäger
Competition team: Florent Bellet, Adela Ciurea, Israel Lopez Vargas, Alexandre Pachiaudi with François Deslaugiers (for the panoramic lift)
• Batiserf – Structure
• Nicolas – Fluide
• Forgue – Economiste
• Cap Paysages – Paysagiste
Assistants to the contracting authority
• Génie des lieux – Space planning
Surface area: 11 600 m² net floorspace
• Competition: 2006
• Work beginning: spring 2007
• Delivery: June 2009
• Offices and open spaces for administrative departments, R&D, design, etc
• Racing skis workshop
• Labtop-rendering, Hérault Arnod
• © André Morin, © Christian Rausch, © Gilles Cabella, Hérault Arnod
• Atelier FAU (photos © André Morin)