After opening the Atoll at Angers in 2012, the Phalsbourg Company has kept up the pace with the construction of a second shopping centre designed and built around the principle of an open-air circular promenade to act as a focal point that combines business with pleasure in the form of the main shopping area.
The new loop with its fifty shops along with nine restaurants and cafés of varying sizes is located on the approach into the city of Metz and positioned between the banks of the Moselle and the railway tracks. The shopping centre’s location, on a flood plain, meant that digging was not an option. A vital component of the project was the inclusion of car parking for up to 2,500 vehicles was consequently positioned at the centre of the loop in a landscaped space built around a 3,500 square metre lake and crossed by a footbridge. With a total width of approximately 50 metres, the ring flows with the contours of the landscape across an area of 17 hectares to create a triangle with generously rounded corners with an entrance and exit on the south side. The heart of the concept is the loop which presents a 700-metre path along the various storefronts. Deliveries to the shops are made externally via a second, concentric loop which is approximately a kilometre long. The effect is completed by a number of smaller, free-standing buildings, many of which are used as restaurants, strategically placed facing the stores or at the water’s edge. The entire frontage of the 6,000 square metre shopping area opens directly onto the circular promenade or the avenues that crisscross the lushly planted central space.
To reflect and enhance the effect of this reworked natural setting the row of shop windows are topped with a mirror-finished stainless steel (Uginox Bright) cowling that completely envelops the steel structure of the loop. The stainless steel finish reigns supreme and covers the entire building extending from the two internal and external façades through to the broad canopy that covers the route followed by visitors. Created in the form of a vast, radiant and flowing wave which creates a boundary and stretches for the buildings entire length. In order to attach the variable wave cowling, a special cladding system was developed using large honeycomb panels covered with bright annealed stainless steel. Spliced together without visible joints, these panels are each around 6m long and 1.5m wide, creating a continuous and flowing reflective surface in line with the designers’ requirements. The result of eight months’ preparatory work, which included the creation of 3D models and prototypes that were made in Acieroid’s specialist workshops confirmed the solution. In total some 6,000 panels were then manufactured to exact measurements to adapt to the different configurations and geometry of the structure. Covering a total area of 35,000 square metres these panels were put into place over a period of four months. The project’s tight timescales were achieved in line with a construction permit which was awarded in April 2012 for a handover in October 2014, giving a total site operation period of only nineteen months.