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Commercial building, Lausanne
With the textile character of its membrane skin, the “Miroiterie” retail building is an eye-catcher in the inner city quarter of Flon. It is located in a former industrial quarter from the era of incipient modernisation in Europe that has been transformed into a shopping and leisure boulevard during the past decade. Prominently located between the two main axes of the quarter and facing the central quarter plaza, the building, used as a sports retail store, features three visible facades. The ground floor is glazed, and the three upper floors are homogeneously covered by a structure comprised of three successive bands of triangular, inflated white membrane cushions that are only interrupted by the occasional glazed element. The translucent inflatable facade enables pleasant distribution of daylight in the interior. At the same time, due to its four-layer plastic foil construction, it effortlessly meets thermal insulation requirements. Low weight was the most important factor in selecting facade materials. Since the building is erected on top of an underground parking garage completed in 2002, a building envelope as light as possible was an advantage in order to prevent unnecessary load transmission into the ceiling slab of the parking garage. The unusual structure, consisting of V-shaped reinforced concrete columns inclined at different angles, is a result of the structural connection between commercial building and parking garage. Similar to the branches of a tree, the building loads are transmitted into the centre columns of the parking garage. Both the visible ceiling-mount installation lines and the concrete columns with their sculptural character provide the interior with a factory-like atmosphere that is superimposed by the sports retailer’s furnishing and merchandise. The powerful exterior impression, however, isn’t influenced by the interior use and is even emphasized after store hours: The interior illumination transforms the building into a large streetlight at night and turns it into a radiant landmark in the midst of the city’s nightlife.