A Modernist Fire Department Hidden in Northern France
Office with a twist or two
What’s the first thought that comes to mind upon hearing the word “office?” For most, it’s “boring.” Maybe “drab”, depending on the context and the location. However, a proposed fire department office in Northern France couldn’t be further from these adjectives.
The project was a proposal by Coldefy to an architectural competition and featured a building that would serve as the regional headquarters for the SDIS (Departmental Fire and Rescue Service). It married the attributes of a practical office building and an impressive industrial complex as it had to have office cubicles, a restaurant, a parking lot, and even a military square for commemorations and various other ceremonies.
From afar, the architecture shines through with a facade consisting of different materials and shapes that even reference a nearby river—if you ask our artists, this project is best seen from an aerial view. Getting closer however reveals all the nuances and small touches that the architects dreamed up and our team realized through beautiful architectural visualizations: signature white brick walls with mashrabiya elements, béton sablé (sandblasted concrete) pathways, and lush gardens shaped by a landscape architect.
Blending in, thus sticking out
Speaking of landscaping, the building had to comply with regional restrictions regarding the amount of greenery at the site. Fortunately, playing by the rules in this case not only meant planting back trees and bushes next to the office but implementing an eco-conscious approach to the design ethos itself so that the building incorporates plants into its very fabric.
The overall plan for the landscape included five types of design from an innovative green rooftop to patches of vegetation sprinkled throughout the parking lot—we’d like to coin the term “architectural camouflage” for this one.
One of the key selling points of the project, namely the meticulous landscaping, only existed in blueprint form with no 3D models to rely on. Our artists had to literally render the landscape architect’s dream into virtual reality completely from scratch.
New perspectives in architectural visualization
Contrary to popular belief, not everything looks better in bright daylight. Sometimes immense beauty can be found in a foggy meadow, a rainy cityscape, or a brutalist block house that blends into a uniformly grey sky—our job as an architectural rendering company is to have a deep understanding of the possible utilizations of different moods.
In the case of the SDIS project, we felt that by using lighting conditions of an overcast day and an entourage that evokes the colder seasons, we can really let the architecture shine through. Since the architects were brave enough to use white as a base color for their building, we would be brave enough to forget sunny settings for a bit and showcase this remarkable building in a setting that evokes more emotion than any clear sky could.
If anything, this approach really emphasized how this structure could blend in with its natural surroundings and show off its architectural brilliance at the same time.
While it was particularly tricky to visualize scenes with so few contrasting elements, our artists had a field day figuring out ways to turn this project into a playground of creativity and step beyond the usual boundaries of architectural visualization.