28-03-2012

A “salon in the forest”: Eco-Tourism centre in Fontainebleau

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A “salon in the forest”: Eco-Tourism centre in Fontainebleau
INCA (Innovation, Création & Architecture) of France came up with this plan for a visitor centre in Fontainebleau forest in the Seine et Marne department just outside Paris.How can man enjoy nature in the least invasive way possible, protecting it and its beauty, in the world’s first nature reserve: a very fragile ecosystem visited by 13 million people a year, the Franchard site in the heart of Fontainebleau forest in île de France?

INCA architectural studios responded to these questions with a project that establishes dialogue between architecture and nature, defining the boundaries between public space and a forest with access restrictions, as requested by the Tourism Committee of the Department of Seine et Marne.

Their design approach is based on control of the environmental impact of the project, keeping it as low as possible. Designed as a “salon” in the forest, the building’s vast forms recall stones eroded by time, fitting harmoniously into their surroundings.


The centre’s orientation and protection against the prevailing winds optimise its bioclimatic performance. Use of renewable energy sources and choice of materials from the forest, and construction with superficial foundations to ensure that the building will be reversible, help express the centre’s values in architecture: preserving biodiversity while at the same time allowing visitors to enjoy nature, promoting reception at a point of importance for the growth of tourism in the area.

The “Centre d’écotourisme de Franchard” opened in April 2011 with the support of the European “PROGRESS” programme offers an example for planning and creation of eco-friendly tourism, skilfully meeting both aesthetic and environmental requirements.

Design: INCA (Innovation, Création & Architecture), Grenoble, www.inca-architectes.com
Team: CAP Paysage (Landscaping), ARPENTE (Wood engineering), ALPES STRUCTURES and ROSTAIN COSTE (technical study), M. FORGUE (construction economics)
Location: Fontainebleau, France
Photographs: © INCA
Related links: Making Land enjoyable, www.floornature.com/moodboard/landscaping-making-land-enjoyable-7412/
Awards: 2011 mention at the “Prix du project citoyen”, 2009 Lauriers de la costruction bois (best group project)


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