Spaces on the move

The Mame building, a refurbished industrial hall, has become Tours City’s innovation ecosystem. To furnish its open space layout, the designers of iwoodlove decorated modules with the Vibrasto covering by Texaa.

Originally, the Mame building was a printing works named after its owner, Alfred Mame, who commissioned its design from architect Bernard Zehrfuss in 1950. This enormous building totalling 14,500 sq. m (over 156,000 sq. ft) symbolizing modern industry received a prize in Milan for its modular construction and aluminium sawtooth roof designed by the French architect Jean Prouvé. The site became a French Listed Building and was refurbished by the architect Franklin Azzi to accommodate a new venture: MAME, The Metropolitan Centre for Creation and Innovation in Tours.

Solutions for open spaces

Mame creates a complete ecosystem and accommodates several schools, around sixty start-ups with a programme of events throughout the year. The interior refit was conceived by Tours-based RCP Global Design. The area that has been named Ateliers Haut (Top Workshops), includes offices, a bar and restaurant, a coworking area and conference space. To partition the coworking area from the conference space, which cover about 1,000 sq. m (10,760 sq. ft), RCP Global Design turned to Guillaume Martin and Michael Damen, the founders of the iwoodlove workshop. Both Guillaume and Michael love wood and have recognised expertise in creating environmentally responsible workspaces that they design and manufacture themselves. As they point out, “The issue with large open spaces is that a lot of people are in them! To divide them up, we offer fun, modular solutions that enable meetings, working together or being alone. The constraint of the Mame building is its historic architecture that cannot be modified and being able nevertheless to design areas that can be changed.” 

Two prototypes to assess the acoustic performance

iwoodlove built a collection of moveable furniture on wheels: 6 cabins and 9 moveable partitions nicknamed “arrows” because of their tapering shape. To handle the acoustics efficiently even in a noisy environment, Guillaume Martin and Michael Damen stretched Vibrasto 30 cladding by Texaa® inside the cabins and on both sides of the “arrow” partitions. Vibrasto 15 wouldn’t have been effective and Vibrasto 50 was too thick for use here. To begin with, the budget couldn’t cover decorating all the cabins with a Texaa® solution. The MAME team initially ordered two prototypes two assess the acoustic performance with users. As well as the sound damping effect, the customers also loved the textures and colours. In fact, they were so satisfied that we included Vibrasto in all the modules, despite the extra cost.” 

Ease of application

iwoodlove has worked with Texaa® for fifteen years on its products and their continuous improvement. Although they were very familiar with Vibrasto, this project reminded them how easy it is to install. “We first built shelters with  birch plywood and fixed battens along the edges. We then fitted the sound absorbing material in the centre and stretched the Vibrasto cladding 30 mm from the back. When the cabins and arrow partitions had been built in our workshop, we delivered them to MAME, where all they had to do was push them into place in the different areas! The other advantage of doing it this way is that we can still remove the Vibrasto covering, if it has to be replaced or the customer wants to change the colours.” On site, the cosy-looking cabins are ideal for work sessions in small groups. The arrow partitions with their light wood framing emphasize how the space in these premises can be modulated. They can be lined up or moved around to form smaller units. There are many possibilities and the rainbow colours identify well with the coworking philosophy. What a fine creative development inspired by Jean Prouvé’s timeless sawtooth roof!

Project name: MAME, la Cité de la Création et de l’Innovation de la Métropole de Tours

Year to be delivered: 2018

Town-city / Country: Mons-en-Barœul, France

Project owner or contracting authority: Société d’Équipement de la Touraine (SET)

Contractor: 2014 : Franklin Azzi Architecture, 2018 : RCP Global design et Atelier iwoodlove

Architect: Pierre-Antoine Gatier

Acoustician: Qualiconsult Service

Photographer: Claire Payen et Philippe Ruault

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