At Marche-en-Famenne in the heart of the Ardennes Forest, lies a treatment facility for sylviculture grains that are derived from the proximate region. And while the very scope of such an installation may seem mundane, the opposite is quite true for the design in question here. Contrived by the studio Philippe Samyn and Partners, the structure ‘responds’ to the irregular polygonal nature of its site by what the architects termed as a – compact ovoid form.
The ‘futuristic’ curving facade of the treatment facility is derived from 1,691 large tiles of laminated reflecting glass. And while this outer form is visually enticing, especially considering the sylvan contrast of the surrounding, it is the arrangement of internal support elements that really alludes to an innovative design. To that end, according to the architects, the core framework of the building is timbered with 200 year old oaks. As the designers explained –
The initial idea was to use fresh wood because of its capacity to relieve pre-bending stresses from constant curvature. The basic element of the structure is a double layered-arc composed of various rectangular pieces of wood, all between 6,14 and 6,21 meters long. The arc thus formed of circular segments approximates a funicular curve. Their axes are all implanted in radian plans forming a torus section. This is an economic design, since it requires a limited number of different wood sections.
So in essence, the futuristic glass shell incorporates what can be essentially termed as elements of vernacular architecture, with pre-bent perches being used in various cultures ranging from the Mongolians to the Zulu. And this complementary structural system houses a bevy of spaces, including a workshop, an array of cold storage areas, few offices and laboratories.