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Pointe à Pitre Palace of Justice

Pointe à Pitre Palace of Justice

Ignacio Prego Architectures
Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe | View Map
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Ignacio Prego Architectures

©Luc Boegly

Palais de Justice

Ignacio Prego Architectures as Architects

Traditionally large and thick as if to express force and power, the walls of the Courthouse in Pointe-à-Pitre evoke openness and transparency. In this way, the building challenges the ice-cold popular image of courts with an apparent warmth, an immediate readability of its forms, and a liberation from the authoritarian codes of judicial architecture.


Built in continuity with the urban fabric and the principal alignments of the city, the Courthouse adapts to its relationship with other buildings in Pointe-à-Pitre. The colours used in the project come from the chromatic environment of Pointe-à- Pitre and in particular from the Prefecture building that faces it, while the varying light reflecting from the aluminum sun blocker comes from the sunshine of the Caribbean sky. The feeling of lightness evoked by the building also seeks a proximity with many other buildings in the city, where the finesse of the balconies, colonnades and awnings make for a remarkable sense of identity.


Open to the city, displaying the transparency of its function, embodied by three courtrooms that can be seen from the street, the Courthouse reveals itself to the gaze, without being fully naked. The modesty of the judiciary, associated with its statutory restraint, obliges it to respect more intimate surroundings and to set aside curiosity.


Beyond its volumes and lines, the strength of the architecture owes itself to the choice of materials, through which a certain idea of the building is organically expressed. The materials, thanks to the effects they evoke to the gaze and in terms of physical sensations, express the will to establish a sense of justice that is neither remote nor cold.


The building is constructed with a reinforced concrete frame with a rigorous geometry that ensures a perfect continuity of the roof with the infrastructure, to ensure the transfer of seismic stresses to the foundations. The plan is structured by a spine that houses the vertical distributions (dedicated to the public, magistrates, detainees and prisoners) and fluid pathways. This framework is completed by a metal framework covering the large public spaces: courtrooms and public lobby.


The façades ensuring the envelope are load bearing in order to contribute to the bracing. Composed of reinforced concrete alternating with aluminum window frames forming a tunnel, they meet the building’s fundamental objectives: robustness, waterproofing, and modularity, in order to ensure the reversibility of the spaces. A large climatic shade mesh completes the system, providing sun protection for all surfaces of the building (glazing as well as walls and roofs) while offering passive control of the light intensity. This makes it possible to drastically reduce energy consumption. It ensures intimacy for the interior spaces vis-à-vis the busyness of the surrounding streets, because the building cannot benefit from any setback. Finally, it protects the glazed surfaces against shocks in the event of violent cyclones. 


The choice of aluminium in an anodised coloured finish for this shade mesh is a technical as well as an aesthetic one. Here, all coloured pigments of plaster, cladding, or bodywork fade quickly due to both the aggressive ultraviolet light and the saline air. Aluminium with an anodised finish was chosen above all for its unalterable chemical nature, combined with the necessary precision of a prefabricated modular implementation.

Palace of Justice

HAVER and BOECKER as Metal mesh facade cladding

The new courthouse at Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, France, has fundamentally changed the judicial life of the island. Previously the services of the Supreme Court were spread over several locations - now they are concentrated in a single court building comprising three courtrooms.


"Apart from the technical constraints underlying the acute function of the services, each court building inevitably poses a challenge to the architecture," said the architect. The new building planned by Ignacio Prego Architects is a contemporary reinterpretation of the profound symbolism of the judicial area. Located in the heart of the city, the building is designed to reconcile the citizens with the authority of justice. 


Sun protection made of HAVER Architectural Mesh with varying open areas

Heavy rainfall and constantly high temperatures characterize the tropical climate of Pointe-à-Pitre. Trade winds, high humidity and particularly intense sunlight pose a great challenge for the building design. Therefore, the selection of materials and the air conditioning of the building were important aspects in the design of the Palace of Justice.


HAVER Architectural Wire Mesh type LARGO-NOVA 2032 VARIO (with varying apertures) covers the street side of the glass façade. This weave type is made from crimped flat wires and vertical round wires, creating a flat and homogeneous appearance with low transparency. With a precisely adjusted open area of 40 % LARGO-NOVA 2032 VARIO filters sunlight and contributes to a cool but bright room climate. In addition to the passive control of the light intensity, this stainless steel wire mesh allows the reduction of energy consumption.


To create the desired open character of the building, the wire mesh cladding has to provide a high level of transparency, whilst at the same time provide sun protection. In order to achieve this, the open area is increased significantly in a 1.5 m high horizontal area (band) which runs over the width of the entire façade. The mesh in this part of the façade has an open area of 70 % instead of 40 %.


As well as providing a good view from inside to outside, the mesh façade also ensures intimacy for the interior spaces vis-à-vis the busyness of the surrounding streets. In addition to its function as privacy and sun protection, the stainless steel mesh façade protects the glazed surfaces against shocks in the event of violent hurricanes.


From a total of 412m² of stainless steel wire mesh, Haver & Boecker manufactured 24 mesh panels with edge protection profiles on the vertical sides. A particular challenge in the production of the mesh panels was to maintain the exact position of the varying meshes on every mesh element, as well as on the width of the complete façade. The 2.38 m wide and 6.05 m long mesh panels were tensioned and fastened over the entire height of the façade using the fastening system of tension profiles and clevis bolts. This system requires a solid substructure on the upper and lower end of the façade to absorb the resulting loads. After Haver & Boecker provided installation instructions, the customer took over the installation of the complete mesh façade.

Project Credits
Metal mesh facade cladding
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct name
Metal mesh facade claddingHAVER and BOECKER
Product Spec Sheet
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