The iceberg of Bordeaux
von | Dec 16, 2009

Creating a designer hotel in downtown Bordeaux, on the left bank of the Garonne, was always going to make waves - this is a strategic landmark of a town, well known for respecting its heritage and "stone city" spirit. Yet this was precisely the challenge... to build a project that would both break with tradition and yet harmonise with its environment.

In order to create the desired "iceberg" effect, architect Jean-Christophe Masnada, of the Atelier d'architecture King Kong, had the idea to develop a façade made from DuPontTM Corian®. While both the aesthetic and performance qualities of the material made it a clear choice, an exterior cladding process such as this had never been done before and has resulted in a world-first for DuPontTM Corian®.

The project builds on all of the inherent qualities of DuPontTM Corian® for outdoor applications: it is smooth, non-porous, resistant to weathering and graffiti, has a good UV resistance and provides edges that have the same colour as the faces and joints between each panel. The translucency of DuPontTM Corian® can also be exploited beautifully in exterior applications.

The concept of a façade made from DuPontTM Corian® came at an early stage to Jean-Christophe Masnada, who speaks enthusiastically about the project: "We were impressed by this noble and rich material from DuPont, which enabled us to withdraw from the traditional façade fitting systems. The façade panels are laid on a double metal framework in order to ensure a good evenness throughout: the tolerance between the panels is adjusted by one millimeter. We also had to deal with large (6 x 3 m) yet thin panels, meaning these were both heavy and potentially fragile. The challenge was both to transport and to fix them onto the support. There is no visible fixing in the façade, but we used a hidden fixing device created for use with DuPontTM Corian® that involves a metal insert with a screw thread that is embedded into the material. A hook is screwed into this and then clips itself onto the secondary framework at every 30 cm. Therefore, a special laying methodology, taking into account all the types of glazed frames found in the façade, was implemented.

DuPontTM Corian® offers the further advantage of easy maintenance and repairability on site. Even after its installation in the event of any damage: it can be renewed by a process of either sanding away superficial damage or cutting out and replacing the damaged sections and then repolishing".

Inside, the spacious bedrooms offer a view over the Garonne. The interior space has been "liberated" as much as possible and the bathrooms are inside the rooms, with a simple screen for privacy. Here the motto is simplicity from ceiling to carpet. The design theme of using DuPontTM Corian® is repeated and the material features once again on the interior as the bathrooms are fitted with basins made from Corian®, with a geometry that evokes the overall look of the building. In the reception hall, a 4.5 meter long counter, also made from DuPontTM Corian® Glacier White, replicates the façade.

All photos © Arthur Péquin, Seeko’o Hotel in Bordeaux, France