Covering an area of 18,000 m2, Ruban Bleu is a key part of St.Nazaires ongoing regeneration and development programme and acts as the main thoroughfare, linking the city centre to the beach and harbour, encouraging residents to re-discover the historic port area. As the building is just 200 metres from the Atlantic Ocean, the projects architects, Reichen & Robert Associates chose to use 1.0mm thick salt-water resistant stainless steel cladding, incorporating a series of complex domed, indented and perforated patterns to represent waves and sea-spray. A similar approach was adopted on the centres ceiling panels, where the 1.5mm thick aluminium includes a marine map produced from thousands of small perforations.
The architects originally approached RMIG in late 2006 as they sought a manufacturer capable of producing their designs and to work alongside them in developing and finalising the original concepts into a striking exterior finish incorporating almost 1,400 individual cladding and ceiling panels.
On previous architectural projects, RMIG had developed rapid precision manufacturing techniques both for perforated panels and for applying convex and concave forms into cladding, but the designs for Ruban Bleu incorporated both principles in virtually every panel. Also, some panel designs called for the domed and indented forms also to be perforated, which presented an additional challenge, as there was no existing solution available. To meet these needs, RMIG developed special tooling in France and initially ran a series of trials to ensure the panels could be produced to the demanding specifications and the patterns were rendered accurately. After 3 months, every panel was complete and delivered to site for installation.
Claude Morel, RMIG Frances Project Manager on the Ruban Bleu scheme, explained: The St.Nazaire regeneration project is not only immense, but also impressive and as the Ruban Bleu centre is one of the most visible structures within the development, the decorative cladding is seen by thousands of people every day.
He added: Although we already have a wide range of experience in developing aesthetic solutions for architecture and construction, the vision of the Ruban Bleus architects presented some new technical challenges, which had to be overcome to ensure designs could be produced to their exact requirements. This was not the first time we have needed to develop innovative tooling, but it certainly was one of the most complex solutions we have done to date, although it has also provided us with a new level of technical expertise and knowledge, which is unique to RMIG.
RMIG Group is the worlds largest manufacturer and supplier of perforated metal and its products are used in a diverse range of applications and sectors from architectural and automotive, through to processing and communications.