Lycée Marc Bloch
Remembering old construction techniques in concrete
New NOEplast Camargue textured formliner with reed motif
A high school with many ancillary buildings was built in the district of Sérignan in southern France. The facades of the new school have exposed concrete quality surfaces. The surface has a relief that recalls a traditional form of construction used in the Camargue. To realise this idea, architect François Fontes in conjunction with NOE-France, the French subsidiary of NOE-Schaltechnik, Süssen, Germany, designed a customised formliner, which has now been added to the standard range of NOEplast textured formliners.
It takes a certain amount of intuitive flair to combine a modern form of construction with another, older form, the use of which was rapidly receding in people's memories, to create an example of discerning architecture. The aesthetic outcome of such a process is what architect François Fontes created with the Lycée Marc Bloch in Sérignan. He was responsible for the design of a complex that has provided for the education and leisure needs of a great many children since it opened in autumn 2013.
The facade surface of the buildings is for the most part fair-faced concrete that reproduces a relief pattern of bundled reeds in its textured finish. In choosing this design, the architect is referring back to 700-year-old construction technique used in the Camargue. It is based on the use of reeds as an organic construction material and earlier formed a source of income for women. Their task was to go down into the marsh and harvest the reeds. After they cut the reeds with a long-handled scythe, they carried them to dry land by boat, where they were bundled and tied together with twine or wire. The organic material was used as a roof covering, for insulation and even for making walls. The construction elements it was used for usually showed a typical relief. It was this typical relief that François Fontes picked up and gave new life to in the exposed concrete facade of the complex. He chose NOEplast textured formliners from NOE-Schaltechnik to achieve this unusual design in the surface of his concrete.
A new formliner
NOE markets the polyurethane mats under the name NOEplast and markets a large range of standard formliners. Moreover, the company also offers customers the option of creating their own individual motifs.
François Fontes took advantage of this opportunity and designed a completely new formliner. So that the concrete relief was as close to the original as possible, the manufacturer used natural reeds in the production of the NOEplast textured formliner. A mould of the reeds was made with liquid polyurethane.
The formliner has been on the market since the beginning of 2014. The tradition at NOE-Schaltechnik is always to name a new textured formliner after the place of first use of the motif. This time, it is named after the area where the traditional reed construction method originated. The formliner designed by François Fontes bears the name Camargue.
Use of the formliner
As with any textured formliner, the Camargue must also be placed properly in the formwork. After the release agent has been applied, the concrete can be poured. As soon as the concrete has hardened, the formliner is removed and the relief exposed. To make its customers' task as simple as possible, NOE-Schaltechnik offers a special service: on request, the company will glue the formliners on to the formwork panel or on to a supporting surface which is then screwed to the formwork. This is particularly helpful on in-situ concrete sites because they do not usually have any level, dust-free areas available and temperature fluctuations may also make it difficult to glue the formliner in place. This step does not have to be done on site, which can save time and money.
Repeated use saves money
A further advantage of NOEplast is that a formliner can be reused up to 100 times depending on the required characteristics of the surface finish. In most cases, all that is necessary before reuse is that the formliner be cleaned with water and the release agent reapplied. In this way, the cost per square meter comes down with every reuse. The manufacturer reinforces the back of the formliners with a glassfibre fabric to ensure long-term dimensional stability and durability, another feature that lifts NOEplast formliners above many others. With the design and production of this formliner, bundles of reeds will appear in future in relief not only in the Camargue, but in concrete walls all over the world, a lasting reference to the traditional construction technique.
Fontes Architecture, Montpellier, France
- Main contractor:
DUMEZ SUD (Vinvi Construction Group), Hérault branch
- Textured formliners:
NOE-France, St. Quentin, France
NOE-Schaltechnik Georg Meyer-Keller GmbH + Co. KG, Süssen, Germany