Bordeaux Law Courts

Bordeaux Law Courts - design

The form of the building reflects the environmental research that informed the whole design process. The design team were committed to embracing a passive energy strategy, without conventional air-conditioning, which would none-the-less provide comfortable working spaces and low running costs. The orientation of the building on the site shields the vulnerable glazed spaces from the hot summer sun, while maximising natural day light. At the same time, the placement of the office wing along the Cours d Albert filters noise and pollution from the busy road.

The atrium acts as a buffer to the noise and poor air quality of the surrounding urban environment. This stable reservoir of clean air is supplied via a specially designed waterfall that cools and humidifies the air. The pool acts as a heat-sink and air passes through a heat-exchanger, extracting air from the offices. The cycle is completed as supply air from the atrium is drawn into the offices through hollow ribs in the concrete slab, making maximum use of the thermal mass of the concrete to provide cooling and heating, depending on the season.

On the facades, opening windows and manually operated aluminium louvres provide shade and limit the ingress of unwanted solar gain to the office spaces.

The courts themselves are ventilated by the stack effect of warm air rising and exiting at roof level, a process that is assisted by the conical forms, with fresh air introduced mechanically at very low velocity at floor level. In addition, the textured timber surfaces of the concave-walled interiors provide speech-perfect acoustical conditions.

A concern for energy-efficient design informed all of the key decisions for the project, including the striking form of the naturally ventilated and day-lit courtrooms.