Marc Mimram & Lafarge: “Living Bridges” Study

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Marc Mimram and Lafarge: “Living Bridges” Study

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Marc Mimram, architect-engineer:

“Our work is somewhat unusual in that it combines both engineering and architecture. For example when we build a bridge we develop a structure. Sometimes this structure enables us to go beyond the purely functional dimension, consisting of joining two points together. It enables us to integrate other dimensions, such as the public space dimension, the space over which we travel and which we share. And this public space that we share is the space of infrastructures.”

“On this basis, in partnership with Lafarge, we have studied the relationship between these infrastructures and the City, how to make sure that these infrastructures are fully integrated in the City, in a positive City where we travel together, where we live together. So the study focuses on a way to revitalize theses infrastructures.
Therefore, we think that the project is mainly defined by its unique location. We evaluate how it should be built, where it should be built and with what materials, and we design it based on its location. That’s why we have focused our design strategy on structures which would not only be flow structures, joining one river bank to the other, but structures that would also be inhabited, shared structures which would become a community link within the City.“

“That is why we have chosen four case studies: in France the ‘Landscape Bridge’ at La Courneuve, the ‘Rooftop Bridge’ in Shanghai, the mega ‘Accomodating Structure’ in New York and the ‘Inhabited Structure’ in Moscow.”

“At La Courneuve, France, it is a ‘Landscape Bridge’, a bridge which connects the park to the city as there is no junction between the city and its park. The La Courneuve park is known for the annual communist ‘Fête de l’Huma’ that takes place there. But la Courneuve inhabitants can’t attend the event as they can’t walk across the motorway which separates the city from the park. So our job is to try to see how, through a bridge built over the infrastructure, and which is also an infrastructure, it becomes a landscape infrastructure which allows the park to be part of the city.
And so we are developing a constructive strategy through big concrete sails, thanks to technologies which are currently developed by Lafarge on high-performance thin concrete based products such as Ductal® which would allow these big concrete sails, a design which was no longer used for building reasons and which is now possible to develop again, thanks to this new material, and which is well integrated in the landscape.”

“As I explained earlier, we give great thought the meaningful use of materials. This is a time for synthesis, a particulary time, where concrete, if we manage to create a synthesis between poured in place and prefabricated concrete, between high resistance and refinement. This will allow us to create a new design vocabulary.”

“So, at a time when these materials can achieve very high performances, although we still don’t know everything about their usage, we are trying to push the envelope, not only concerning the use of the material, but also its urban usage, as well as its static and structural limits.”

“There are two reasons for us to work with an industrial concern such as Lafarge. The reasons are both technical and social. Working directly with a building materials company, we can ask them questions and at the same time answer theirs.
At the same time I applaud Lafarge’s social concern with the impact of its materials, not just in the transformation of the world, which is as much their responsibility as ours, but also on their proper use in the development of infrastructures, where their materials in general account for 35% of the total. So, it is quite natural, not frequent but natural, that architects and industrialists come together for such projects.”

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Lafarge, Bringing materials to life
Copyright Lafarge, Septembre 2008

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