France's Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Agronomic Research Institute), recently completed an expansion project that was built to further the study of ecology and forestry in France. Located near Nancy in northeastern France, INRA Research Laboratories fits in with both the existing facilities as well as the surrounding forest. The four-story building was designed by Tectoniques and features sustainably-sourced timber as well as green building strategies to reduce energy and water use.
The new INRA Research Laboratory is an expansion of the existing facilities. To match these buildings, Tectoniques designed the north facade as smooth and contemporary. Consistent light and no excess heat allows this facade to be open to the rest of the campus. The rest of the building faces the land and the forest, so these facades feature timber slats and louvers, which give it an organic look as well as protect it from excess heat. Solar passive design minimizes heat gain in the summer through these shading devices, but still lets in lots of natural light. The building’s facade is stepped back from the louvers by a walkway, and triple-paned windows further improve the building’s energy efficiency.
The wood frame and the timber for the exterior is sustainably-harvested fir from the Vosges region. An atrium in the heart of the building features a garden and a rainwater-sourced pool surrounded by flowers, bushes and trees. The atrium is covered by a ETFE plastic dome, which brings in filtered natural light and helps control the interior climate. In the summer, windows and vents open to allow hot air to rise up and out of the building. In addition to the energy efficient design, the eco lab also features a rooftop photovoltaic system, a ground coupled heat exchanger and a biomass boiler that is fueled with plants grown on site.
Images ©Renaud Araud