The Carmes site of Clermont-Ferrand was purchased by Michelin in the 2000s, but recently received an update thanks to Encore Heureux Architectes, Construire and Base. The companies collaborated to refresh the building with a more sustainable redesign that brought original elements together in a way that better serves the public.
The designers say the plan was to recreate the facilities with a more welcoming, unique and cohesive space. Additionally, it included the public venue in an emblematic public square. The project followed ideals of a circular economy and created a space that reflects the desire to take twenty-first-century climate challenges head-on.
Michelin’s new headquarters in France is being given an extension with a new facade that still reflects the manufacturing history and architecture of the site. A new reception area with a two-story, light-filled lobby and main entrance with a wood overhang creates more public space. It will also function as an interim gathering space between the private company offices and the public square outside.
Encore Heureux suggested an approach to this project that would “bring a potential vision to life for such an emblematic company.” However, they also said that it was a challenge. The future of the company headquarters could only be decided within the company. What the company wanted was to improve the headquarters’ interface with the public while showcasing sustainable processes.
The headquarters receives thousands of visitors daily. Therefore, this became a real logistical challenge and not just an emotional value of wanting better ways to welcome the public into the space. A three-story tropical greenhouse initiated by Edouard Michelin in the early 2000s had its future in question. Yet, it was preserved and integrated into the visitor space in this new design. This gorgeous space also features glass walkways that wrap around trees, which have plenty of space to grow inside the building.
A tree-lined plaza extends out from the building to the edges of the Carmes square. It includes outdoor furniture, plantings and water features for the summer. This site was historically private to Michelin employees but now allows public access, including an exhibition space, a store, a glasshouse museum and a cafe. This space created more jobs and made the space useable for more people and events. This underlines the idea that the space that is now open to the public in a much warmer and more welcoming way. Beautiful wood columns and overhanging porches are more reminiscent of a concert hall than a company headquarters.
The glass facade for the building redesign is sheltered by these wood awnings as well. The setup helps absorb and moderate energy intake from sunlight and reduces the carbon footprint of the building by reducing energy needs. Cement was also limited in use in this remodel in favor of sustainably sourced recycled local materials such as steel and wood.
Images via Cyrus Cornut