Maroquinerie de la Sormonne / Coldefy

Architects: Coldefy
Area: 5700 m²
Year: 2022
Photographs: Gautier Deblonde
Sustainability: Zefco
Landscape: VOGT
MEP: Espace-temps
Civil Engineer: ATEVE
Acoustics Engineer: Lamoureux
Program / Use / Building Function: Workshops, offices, convivial areas
Site Area: 8 ha.
Completion Year: Competition: 2019, Delivery: December 2022
Structure and Façade: VP Green
Economist: AXIO
Kitchen Design: Behal – Patrice Legrand
MOEX: TDA
Region: Ardennes
Country: France

Maroquinerie de la Sormonne, designed by Coldefy, is a new leather goods factory for Hermès located in a rural and forested area of the Ardennes. The project blends into its natural surroundings while creating a high-performance, bioclimatic workshop that prioritizes the well-being of its artisans.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

The Maroquinerie de la Sormonne project is set in a formerly cultivated natural space, within a region known for its rural and forest traditions. Against the backdrop of a tree-lined valley and reed beds sheltering marsh birds, the environment feels timeless, reminiscent of a painting by Renoir. In this pristine natural setting, the project offers a contemplative immersion within a large horizontal structure. The ‘folded’ design forms a new canopy of wood, creating a topography that shelters an artisan village. Thomas Coldefy and Isabel Van Haute emphasize that the project draws on the symbolism of the house as a place of life, history, heritage, and family transmission, integrating seamlessly into the surrounding nature. The challenge of revisiting the archetypal workshop and reinventing the work environment guided the entire conception of the project. By creating architecture with simple volumes and transforming the traditional shed roof design in an unprecedented way, the design envisions for Hermès the future of the production workshop: timeless, bioclimatic architecture designed to enhance the well-being of its occupants.

Hermès entrusted Coldefy with the design of its second leather goods factory in the Ardennes. Coldefy’s sensitive and pragmatic approach to architecture, which interacts with and respects the environment, led to the creation of a high-performance building that benefits both the artisans and the environment.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

Revisiting the archetypal production workshop involved a paradigm shift: rethinking the industrial building and the stereotypes imposed by production processes. The shed roof, evocative of the industrial world, provides optimal light for the craftsman’s work and has been redesigned to highlight the double-sloped roof, a symbol of the house, on the north side, with an overhang that protects it from southern light.

Inside, the diagrid timber frame continues the house’s symbolism, creating a subtle domestic atmosphere. This setting is conducive to concentration and the sharing of skills and know-how, foundational to the Hermès artisanal model.

The 5,700 sqm building is clad in burnt wood, framing large glass facades. The workshop space’s basic parameters were redefined by multiplying its proportion by 11.5 m and adopting a simple house section with north-facing dormers. The plan is a direct translation of the ideal functional layout. At the heart of the leatherworks is a set of four cutting workshops. The size and proportions of these workshops can be easily adapted by reorganizing the partitions within the given structural grid. Large cantilevers running the length of the building house the exterior porches and terraces.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

The structure is multifunctional, flexible, adaptable, resilient, and reversible, meeting the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s workspaces.

The project opted to build with wood to reduce its carbon footprint and utilize a renewable resource. The primary structure is wood, complemented by a concrete floor slab. The facades feature dark-tinted aluminum joinery and burnt-wood cladding, supported by a timber frame that alternates between openwork claustra and solid sections.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

The wood is locally sourced from Douglas fir, a species harvested in the Ardennes. Treated using a traditional 18th-century Japanese technique for making wood rot-proof, this method provides the wood with exceptional longevity and strength. The burnt wood is maintenance-free and offers increased resistance to fire and UV, with a lifespan of over 80 years. Furthermore, the material was selected for its aesthetic appeal, ranging from light gray to deep black with bluish highlights. The roof is clad in black steel, echoing the appearance of the burnt wood.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

Like Hermès, the Maroquinerie de la Sormonne blends into its environment with simplicity, discretion, and high standards. Situated in an industrial zone in the Ardennes, within an 8-hectare park, it takes full advantage of the site’s many assets: generous biodiversity, a beautiful skyline, views over farmland, and remarkable landscape features.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

Hermès and Coldefy, committed to preserving ecosystems, collaborated with environmental experts to protect the habitat of approximately forty species of birds and amphibians near the building. Many trees on the site, including several old oaks, were preserved to create a plant corridor, allowing species to migrate throughout the area.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

Local species, including an orchard, were planted to foster biodiversity and harmonious landscaping. Considering the site’s hydromorphic conditions and the analysis of the local flora and fauna, the project aims to minimize its environmental impact while enhancing the natural surroundings.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

The Maroquinerie de la Sormonne aligns with Hermès’ and Coldefy’s environmental goals and is designed to achieve E4C2 certification standards.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

To meet these environmental goals, the construction was optimized by carefully selecting the topographical position to minimize environmental impact. The project includes water recovery meadows and ditches for phyto-purification, uses low-carbon materials like timber for the structure and facades, and incorporates 1,900 m² of solar panels on the roof. Also, a geothermal heating and air-conditioning system and high-performance stone-wool insulation enhance the building’s environmental performance.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

The E+C- label evaluates a new building’s performance based on two criteria: energy (E) and carbon (C). Level E4, the highest level, signifies that the Sormonne leather goods workshop is a positive energy building. Level C2, also the highest, denotes the most efficient carbon footprint reduction.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

To achieve these levels of certification, Coldefy adopted a holistic approach to the design of the Maroquinerie de la Sormonne, emphasizing low-tech solutions, common sense, and sustainability.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy

The aim is to ensure rational construction, simplicity and robustness in systems, the use of quality materials, and a flexible layout that allows for future spatial rearrangements. To achieve the E4 level of the Energie Carbone reference system, a photovoltaic power plant was integrated into the roof. The electricity generated is partially consumed by the building, especially for ventilation and lighting systems, with the excess exported to the national grid. As required by the E4 label, the factory is supplied with 100% renewable energy on an annual basis.

The Maroquinerie de la Sormonne embodies the shared ambitions and values of Coldefy and Hermès: exemplarity, high standards, and quality. Its architecture, which blends softness, sobriety, and technical sophistication with a bioclimatic design, represents the future of production workshops. This building not only promotes the well-being of the artisans it houses but also integrates seamlessly and sensitively into its preserved environment.

Maroquinerie de la sormonne / coldefy
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Project Location

Address: Ardennes, France

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