Saturday, August 14, 2010

Precedent 3 - Nautic Center / Guinée et Potin Architects

The Nautic Centre by Guinee et Potin Architects is a new sailing club located in Pléneuf Val-André, Brittany, France and functions as a sailing training centre, predominantly for children, but also adults. The building was completed in 2009.


The building is tightly grouped together with three levels stacked up on top of each other. The middle level recedes providing an external terrace which delineates the floors of the building and reduces the bulk impact that the building has on viewers.

The building is inserted into the cliff face following the shore line, but which is separated form the beach by a a quiet road. The cliff wraps around the building on three sides, giving the building a single aspect out to the south west. The building itself, due to its insertion into the cliff and the separation from the beach, is a building of the land, which by its function and views is connected to the water.


The zoning of the building functions is conveyed predominantly by the three levels, with boat storage (grey) and training (orange) on the ground, the club house (green) and administration (blue) in the middle and interestingly the amenities (purple) on the top floor. This location of the amenities on the top floor is an interesting one, considering from a pragmatic point of view the need to walk up flights of stairs after a hard day on the water seems very demanding, yet also the location of these extensive amenities on the top level also allows the mass of the building to be a smaller foot print than otherwise might have been needed.


With the building being only one space deep the horizontal circulation largely occurs through occupied space such as the storage or clubhouse space. The amenities of the top floor are all accessed off the central circulation off the spiral staircase.

Vertical circulation (red) occurs internally by a central spiral stair case in the centre of the building as well as lift for disabled access on the east side. An external stair on the east façade also allows external access to all floors of the building.

Internal Space:

The exposure of the structure at different points within the building contribute to raising the treatment of the interior spaces above that of purely pragmatic spaces. The expose of the timber structure of the floor above in the clubhouse space adds a level of depth and quality to the space especially the contrast of the structure against the view across the water. It is this view that is the focus of most of the spaces with them being orientated to maximize inhabitant experience of this view

The function of the building as a place for children is reflected in the bright and multi-coloured tiles of the amenities which add life to the otherwise functional fit-out.
With the small footprint, natural light an ventilation to the building are easily managed, especially with the building having a gap between it the cliff surrounding, allowing diffuse light and ventilation on the three cliff facades.


Each of the three levels of the Nautic Centre are differentiated by way of their materials. The ground floor storage area is clad in red cedar timber cladding, a suitable timber for the marine environment. The middle floor of the clubhouse is glass on the south western façade to take advantage of the view, with the floor above providing shading. The upper floor housing the amenities is precast concrete of a chestnut colour, with irregular windows and indentations to reference the cliff face behind.

The structure is a combination of steel concrete and timber frame, all of which are exposed at various points.

Relevance to the Boat Park + Marine Base

The Nautic Centre is a useful precedent in identifying and confirming some of the directions that I am taking. Firstly the location of the building hugging the cliff space and the distance that puts between the building and the water and the reduction of the dialogue between the two reinstates the decision that I have made to cantilever part of the Marine Base out into the water and the strength that provides to the relationship between the building and the water.

Also obviously the building is another source for thinking about some of the functional planning aspects of the Marine Base.

More significantly the Nautic Centre provides an example of mixed façade materials and the impact that can have on the massing of the building – if it had been one sole material, it may have seemed more massive. Also the choice of materials has reaffirmed the idea for buildings of this nature to make a public statement – to make their mark. The Nautic Centre uses predominantly simple and humble materials, but the choice of precast panels in varying configurations for the top floor, acts as the signpost for the building, and makes the public statement for the building and proves this can be done without having to be garish.

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