GRAAM Architecture envelops a Burgundian office building with a wooden exoskeleton and a “glass veil”


A glazed skin hangs from a wooden exoskeleton of this office building in France by French studio GRAAM Architecture, which has been shortlisted in the commercial building category of the Dezeen Awards 2022.

Produced for the banking group Savings Bank in Dijon, Burgundy, the seven-storey building was designed to provide airy, flexible and naturally lit workspaces that meet the Passivhaus requirements of using no more than 15 kWh/m2 per year.

Raised above its sloping location on a concrete podium containing garage space, GRAAM ArchitectureThe design of was inspired by a desire to use local materials and businesses in the area.

The Bourgogne office building was designed by GRAAM Architecture

“Located on the heights of Dijon in Burgundy, a few meters from the tram stop, the building is built on seven levels, allowing it to be seen from afar from the expressway of the city”, specifies the firm.

“Its wooden structure echoes the local resources of the Burgundy region, whose reputation for deciduous and coniferous forests is second to none,” he continues.

The building’s timber structure favors the use of traditional beam and joist techniques, using only concrete and cross-laminated timber (CLT) where necessary, such as for floors and stair and elevator cores .

Detail image of the exterior of the street-facing entrances to the headquarters of Caisse d'Epargne Bourgogne Franche Comté
The building incorporates a wooden exoskeleton

Helping to clear the interiors, the structure is supported by a wooden bracing exoskeleton whose upper beams are used to suspend the outer “glass veil” envelope, supported by secondary steel elements.

The choice of materials allows the structure to be built entirely dry, the concrete elements being prefabricated before being brought to the site.

“The project responds to a desire for exemplarity, modularity and intelligence”, specifies the firm.

“[It is] designed with a wooden structural skeleton, precast concrete floors and a wooden exo-structure covered with a double skin of glass,” he continues.

“The building allows the bank to play a role in environmental issues, displaying without ostentation its exemplary and unique character.”

Exterior view of the glass facade of the Caisse d'Epargne Bourgogne Franche Comté headquarters
The exterior is clad in a double skin of glass

At the base of the structure, slender white steel columns support the exterior structure of the building, creating a small sheltered area around the perimeter of the building that extends to a terrace created by the concrete base and bordered by a metal balustrade .

Inside, slender, nearly full-height windows on each floor flood the office spaces with natural light, and the spacing of the wooden columns allows for the easy addition of partitions.

Interior image of a space lined with wooden columns in the office in France
The interior has been designed to be divided and organized to best suit its users

“The space can be subdivided to create work areas for specific departments, or rented to another company if needed,” the practice said.

Among the other buildings shortlisted in the commercial building category of the Dezeen Awards 2022 is the Sanand Factory in India by Studio Saar, which aims to elevate otherwise typical factory structures with thoughtful detailing.

The photography is by Nicolas Waltefaugle.


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