Dock G6 lies on the concrete slab around the wet docks, situated between the neighbourhoods of the Chartrons and Bacalan in Bordeaux. It enjoys a prime position, directly adjacent to wet dock n°1 and situated between the Promenade des Bassins and Rue Lucien Faure which runs from the Jacques Chaban-Delmas vertical lift bridge to the start of Cours Balguerie-Stuttenberg.
Before the Nicolas Michelin et Associés (ANMA) agency defined an urban redevelopment plan for the area in 2010, the concrete slab was home to an industrial site comprising warehouses, storage silos, wet and dry docks, a submarine base, cranes and a lot of very silty water… These elements shaped a universe enriched by the varied palette of its raw materials and which was in need of a form of redevelopment which would not betray its essence. This is why the architectural identity of this hotel complex has been designed on the principle of an inhabited exoskeleton which enters into meaningful dialogue with the spirit of the place.
The urban redevelopment plan gives pride of place to the water and its specific objectives are as follows:
- Promoting the two wet docks which form a magnificent empty space at the heart of the district.
- Creating meaningful bonds with Bordeaux’s industrial docklands and promoting its industrial heritage.
- Creating a dense, active, varied, mixed new neighbourhood where diverse forms of human habitat and lifestyle cohabit.
- Providing the neighbourhood with a network of landscaped paths leading from one area to the next and converging towards the promenade along the wet docks.
- Creating a new skyline inspired by major port-style buildings – inhabited warehouses, with shed roofs allowing for ample natural light.
- Integrating car parks in such a way as to conceal them from public spaces.
Dock G6 stands in a clearly visible position and differentiates itself from neighbouring buildings by virtue of its volume arrangement – its typology, form and height seem ‘extra-ordinary’ in terms of neighbouring typologies. To really grasp the process at work here we must return to the genesis of the project, in that it speaks volumes about the trust forged between the client and King Kong when they worked together on Bordeaux’s now renowned Hotel Seeko’o, clad in Corian®.
A precursory building on a par with the scale of the neighbourhood
The plot of land designated for G6 had been identified by Alain Dhersin before work began on the urban redevelopment plan. The programme, surfaces and underlying architectural principles for its design had also been defined before other projects were elaborated. As the urban redevelopment plan advised that the new skyline created be characterised by irregular sequences, the size of the building was perfectly coherent with this urban blueprint. The building’s architecture, form, materials, bronze hues and mixed programme perfectly respect the specifications of the urban redevelopment plan. Dock G6 is at ease with its individuality and has become an integral part of the ‘spirit of the docks’, now home to a dense, active, varied, mixed new neighbourhood where diverse forms of human habitat and lifestyle cohabit.
An inhabited exoskeleton
The framework of the building is legible from its façade and lends Dock G6 the atmosphere of an industrial building, just like those which previously existed in the neighbourhood. Along the façade, the structure of the building is designed in such a way as to couple the two floors comprised within its base and the two first floors comprising the hotel rooms, thereby effacing any stacking effect. As the idea of latticework or netting is key to the design (used in the guardrails on the terraces and intermediary spaces…), a metal mesh was used to envelop the building in its entirety thus protecting the privacy of its interior spaces, despite the ample glazing.
To the east, the façade which runs along Rue Lucien Faure has a deep slash running obliquely across it to house the access ramp up to the car park. The underside is clad in mirror finish stainless steel, thereby reflecting back the hustle and bustle of the city below. The 5th floor is set back to make space for a decked terrace (1 500 m²) offering panoramic views over the whole district. The top floor is rather more evanescent and is crowned with a ‘sugar lump’, a parallelepiped respecting the framework laid down in the urban development plan (10% of the surface of the plot). These three floors house the suites, all of which enjoy individual terraces. The sports facilities are on the 6th floor.
The building occupies the full length and breadth of its plot meaning that the spaces designed, including the dual-aspect lobby area, café, restaurant, rooms, meeting rooms, conference hall, offices and terraces, are very ample in size and offer views either onto the cityscape or the wet dock. The car park is suspended at the very heart of the building to respect the requirements laid down in the urban redevelopment plan. The corridors are positioned around the car park, leading to three floors where the rooms are positioned against the building’s exterior to take full benefit of the fine views over the city and wet dock. The corridors are reminiscent of the landscaped paths criss-crossing the neighbourhood as a whole and they culminate at the four points of the compass where ample glazing offers panoramic views and welcomes in natural light.
Versatility of use and reversibility
The exoskeleton principle provides the means of reducing load bearing walls, thereby freeing up vast, extremely versatile spaces. Over and above the spatial amplitude created, this building principle underpins many of King Kong’s designs for spaces where versatility is crucial. Here, for example, the dimensions and structuration of the central lobby mean that it can also be used for events or exhibitions. King Kong has worked on a great number of designs for cultural spaces and this enabled the architects to anticipate future needs by integrating scenographic amenities from the outset.
Dock G6 comprises a number of programmes - 4* Hotel, wellness centre, conference facilities, hanging car park, sports facilities, offices – which are generally positioned in isolation, but which here come together thanks to subtle interweaving and meticulous thought, giving birth to a pioneering design which brings together worlds and sensations.
Structure & envelope
In response to the question of reversibility, Dock G6 is built around an exoskeleton forming a checkerboard grid. The building’s structure uses a concrete-steel mix creating a play of offset envelopes housing the hotel’s different functions.
- The base has open views onto the city where the curtain wall has clear glass and Emalit (enamelled glass) in front of the technical zones.
- From the second floor upwards, spiralled metal meshing in an anodised bronze colour clads the facades over all three levels where the rooms are positioned.
- The conference centre on the fifth floor is set back in relation to the lower flowers and is entirely glazed (natural anodised aluminium) over the terracing and peripheral decking.
- The ‘sugar lump’ is clad in iridescent metal squares, crowned with stainless steel netting.
Sound insulation of the car park is achieved through the presence of two concrete slabs (20 cm), one of which is positioned on springs to prevent sound waves being transmitted into the rest of the building. The underside of the access ramp leading up to the car park from the main entrance courtyard is clad in mirror finish stainless steel, reflecting back the hustle and bustle of the town below and playing with the visitor’s visual perceptions.
Management of technical ducts
Freeing the top floor and crown of the building from the inevitable technical aedicules is a cause of great design complexity in terms of how technical ducts (fluids, ventilation…) are managed. This was made possible by integrating a space entirely devoted to accommodating ducts in the plenum of the car park. The building uses urban heating sources provided for in the urban redevelopment plan.