case study

A creative solution for a European City of Culture

Built to celebrate the city’s artistic heritage, FRAC Marseille’s iconic design required a highly technical roofing solution.
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Frac de Marseille

Challenge

Architectural innovation on a limited canvas

The Fond Regional D’art Contemporain, known as FRAC, is emblematic of Marseille's successful bid to become the European City of Culture in 2013. Designed as an arts centre and archive for the Provence Alpes Cotes d'Azur (PACA) region, its striking chequered façade draws onlookers inside and inhabitants outside, creating a place of movement and life.


In addition to being subject to a stringent build schedule, there were several key design challenges to overcome. The geometry of the tight site and strict urban-planning restrictions imposed an unusual triangular footprint, causing a very steeply-sloped roof. The architects decided early on in the project that this should be considered as a continuation of the façade, rather than a separate roof surface, that rose up and over the upper terrace. To realise this ambitious architectural feature, BMI were asked to develop an innovative, reliable supportive façade/roof system.

Solution

After six months of development and prototyping by our technical team, a specialised framework was created based on BMI Siplast’s Icosun T-Fix process. Typically used for PV panels, the integrated support-and-waterproofing system was adapted to support the fibreglass reinforced polyester façade panels. Once the framework was installed, the panels were secured to the roof/wall surface through the sealing membrane. A second sealing layer was then laid to cover the flat part of the rail to create a seamless aesthetic. These panels were arranged in a seemingly random, yet precisely placed design arrangement that complemented the building’s striking variated glass façade.


The solution also accommodates three traditionally constructed timber roof terraces and a green roof terrace, providing a contrast in texture and colour to the cool aesthetic of the façade and pitched roof.

Frac de Marseille

Results

The FRAC was unveiled in time for the inauguration of Marseilles as the European Capital of Culture 2013. Its unique design and sensitive use of space was greeted with public and professional admiration, making it a worthy icon of the city’s artistic heritage and creative ambitions.