Best Tall Building Europe Winner: White Tree, Montpellier

Presenter to be confirmed

Nicolas LaisnƩ
Nicolas Laisné Associés, Paris

Cyrill Meynadier
Opalia Urban Workshop, Montpellier

Embracing the Outdoors at Height

Almost everything about the design of White Tree evolved in response to Montpellierā€™s abundant sun exposure. Inspired by the form of a tree, it features generous balconies that branch off the buildingā€™s ā€œtrunk,ā€ each covered by a complementary permeable shade that diffuses glare to the space below, and join the buildingā€™s faƧade at varying angles, mimicking leaves outstretched towards the sunlight. The buildingā€™s design concept incorporates consideration of local lifestyle and climate in the South of France: the balconies offer a protective veil for the faƧade, deflecting heat gain and offering necessary shade to people below it. The balconies also function as fully-fledged living rooms, dissolving the boundary of indoor-outdoor spaces and allowing residents to enjoy outdoor amenities more oftenā€”a boon to citizens of Montpellier, a city which enjoys sunny days 80 percent of the year. Additionally, the calibrated exterior elements break up winds to reduce lateral loads, while delivering gentle currents of fresh air to the buildingā€™s interior.
Projecting from the buildingā€™s core like drawbridges, the buildingā€™s balconies are supported by guy wires that connect to upright steel H-beams fastened onto concrete floor slabs. The reinforced concrete column-and-slab structure is clad in white metal, which notably reflects more sunlight than darker materials, cooling the exterior. The balcony floors are essentially steel trays composed of girders, small beams, and struts, which are covered with fireproofing and then decked in wood. Above, steel pergolas act as horizontal brise-soleilā€”cutting down on sun exposure while still allowing fresh air and views. Each balcony has been structurally calculated according to its orientation and length, and each supports 72 psf (3.5 kPa).

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