GKD Project Wins 2017 Building of the Year Award
A major GKD project recently garnered an international accolade winning the coveted 2017 Building of the Year Award from ArchDaily. The Dufour Pavilion refurbishment project at the Palace of Versailles was honored in the Best Applied Product category. Visited by millions per year, the entrance to this Parisian landmark has been transformed into an innovative and sustainable museum space. Through the elaborate use of GKD metal mesh, it mimics Versailles’s most famous design motifs - gold and mirrors.
The peer-based, crowd-sourced architecture award is chosen by the collective intelligence of over 75,000 votes from ArchDaily readers around the world. Over 30,000 individuals participated in the nomination process, choosing projects that exemplify what it means to push architecture forward. Sixteen winners in as many categories were ultimately selected from a pool of over 3,000 published projects.
Designed by longtime GKD partner Dominique Perrault, this monumental undertaking uses GKD’s intricate Escale metal mesh, which helps embellish several new and renovated spaces throughout the Dufour Pavilion. The resulting design has successfully converted a historic landmark into a world-class museum, offering visitors a proper introduction to the Palace of Versailles.
The project began 14 years ago, when the Ministry of Culture in France announced the start of a 20-year initiative for a full-scale restoration of the Palace of Versailles, the first such initiative since the 1800s.
Since Versailles was not intended for the millions of circulating visitors that it now receives annually, visionary architect Dominique Perrault designed a new type of space to make the palace function more like a museum, with a cafe, gift shop, auditorium, and entrance and exit that loop traffic in and out through the Pavilion.
The reception hall reinterprets the opulent materials from inside the palace in contemporary shapes that bounce golden light throughout the space and create a transition point that both honors and modernizes some of the palace’s most famous material motifs.
Among the classic stone and wood materials is an awe-inspiring golden ceiling made of shimmering, metal fabric. The metal mesh dresses the entryway, where visitors begin their tour, making a strong architectural statement.
The reception area resides between two courtyards and a large staircase leading to the gardens outside. The draping waves of elegant metal are dedicated entirely to enhancing visitor experience. Guests make their way into the palace on the ground floor where the reception area is the first room they experience and the last room they exit. Then leading further into the gallery, patrons are invited to follow a loop similar to many experiential designs of the world’s famous museums.
Perrault opened up the “narrowness” of the pavilion by creating new spaces on the ground floor and larger volumes on the garden level. During the day, natural light shines into the stairwell and reception area through a gold-tinted glass corridor - catching the reflective qualities of the mesh accents. Approximately 1,200 square feet of GKD metal fabric was used in the staircase, reception area, and hallway accents. Each panel along the ceiling measures nearly 20 feet long by 10 feet wide. Detailed edges are created through spontaneous lengths of aluminum metal inserted laterally into the Escale with three different anodized colors. The subtlety of the shades of gold makes a heavier quality at the “hem” of the metal cladding and ceiling. Vertical aluminum cladding accents, also showcasing the hem, were attached withlarge spirals at the top and bottom.
Specified purely for its aesthetic purposes, GKD metal fabric has become a “go-to” material for Perrault. The suspended waves of GKD mesh along the ceiling is a signature move for the famous architect. The dynamic, reflective qualities of the metal weaving are the major reasons Perrault specifies the material beyond the functional benefits of sunshading, acoustics, and sustainability.