On entering the 2019 renovation of the headquarters of insurance company CMMA, in Châlons-en-Champagne, a majestic staircase made of natural oak and HI-MACS® captures the eye, like a sculpture. The architects Patrick Planchon and Franck Deroche and fine woodworker Landry Gobert have successfully combined function with aesthetics in this structure that serves as the veritable backbone of the building.
The staircase, the backbone of the building
The client’s original specifications for the renovation of a building with many constraints were simple: a backbone that would connect all of the sections and that would symbolize the spirit of the mutual insurance company, solidarity. The architectural transposition of that expectation emerged as a monumental atrium staircase, with the different departments and reception areas wrapping around it on three stories.
For State-certified architect Patrick Planchon, “after testing various materials, HI-MACS® stood out from the rest for its performance and its ability to embody the desired monolithic look, thanks to its absence of visible joints. This choice was confirmed by the ability for fine woodworker Landry Gobert to work it in accordance with the architects’ designs.”
In addition, the Solid Surface was chosen for its ability to be shaped down to the smallest detail, in order to reproduce the spatial quality instilled in the structure in a perfect “combination of elegant mass and firm airiness,” as described by Patrick Planchon.
Landry Gobert, a fine woodworker accustomed to working with noble materials, managed to elevate this sculptural piece in accordance with best practices. Because, although HI-MACS® is a next-generation material that is as solid as stone, it can be worked like wood. Many master woodworkers have appropriated it for themselves and are using it to continuously push the limits of creation.
Materials in perfect combination: Oak and HI-MACS®
The stairs and landings have been covered with oak slat paneling attached to the metal frame. The wood, varnished natural oak with a matte finish, is an extension of the ground-floor parquet and adds a touch of nobility and warmth to the site.
Further enhancing the wood, the railings installed all along the path of this atrium structure – with the exception of the landings – are cladded with 12-mm bonded, seamless HI-MACS® Alpine White panels, on top of a metal structure with a slightly beveled lip.
The handrail is perfectly aligned with the inner side and includes recessed joints at the edge of the materials and lighting whose 60° angle illuminates the part of the handrail held by visitors.
Functional, modular furniture in harmony with the staircase
Each space is arranged in perfect accord with the staircase, which sets the tone as soon as a visitor sets foot inside, with variations in warm tones varying between woody colours, the grey brown of the wall cladding and the deep red of the furniture and decorations, set off by the immaculate white of the HI-MACS®.
Four imposing modular conference tables plus consoles made of HI-MACS® furnish the Board Room with its retractable back wall, as well as workspaces with desks and slat paneling, likewise made of HI-MACS®.
Like the staircase – the pillar of this renovation – HI-MACS® has made it possible to once again push the heights of the creative work of architects Patrick Planchon and Franck Deroche, and of fine woodworker Landry Gobert, who collaborated in perfect harmony to meet the client’s specifications. HI-MACS® was the material of choice for its versatility and its endurance over time, as well as its ability to integrate with traditional materials and reflect the values of the company.