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.
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