If you’re going to build an office building at the base of a pristine mountain in France, it had better blend seamlessly into the natural environment. Kengo Kuma accomplished just that with the “base camp” for Blue Ice, an outdoor sporting goods specialist. Clad in raw oak planks, the structure mimics the nearby forest so beautifully it almost appears to be a part of the natural scenery.
The Blue Ice headquarters seem right at home at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. Kengo Kuma’s choice to use raw, unskinned oak panels in the exterior design serve as an homage to the surrounding woods. The roof, topped with the oak planks, follows the curvature of the mountainside and prevents snow build-up. This feature is overshadowed, however, by the thick wooden panels on the building’s façade, which are both striking and non-obstructive to natural light.
Skylights wash the interior lower and mezzanine levels with bright, snow-reflective daylight. The spacious offices are central to the headquarters, with staircases on the sides of the floorplan. Views of the mountain are all the artwork the space will ever need, and the view is expansive. Just one look this marvelous design may have you asking, “Is Blue Ice hiring?”
Images via Michel Denance