Radar tower by Barthélémy Griño Architectes

Radar tower
Radar tower
Photo © Hélène Binet

Sited on the campus of the Ecole Polytechnique, the radar tower is one of the first project for the large-scale science cluster on Saclay plateau. Over 60m high, the tower provides a reliable air traffic control on the approach to Paris Orly Airport.

Radar tower
Photo © Hélène Binet

Rising above trees, the tower is a landmark indicating and orientating this new area of development. It is a 13.9 m diameter cylindrical trunk, housing all the required technical equipment. The only protrusion is the radome at the top.

Radar tower
Photo © Hélène Binet

This simplicity of form is reinforced by the choice of only one material, light grey, high quality prefabricated concrete. The tower will be seen against the sky: in order that light may shine through it, the structural wall is perforated. Each level is made of 28 concrete posts, arranged regularly.

Radar tower
Photo © Hélène Binet

These posts are trapezoidal, with important variations in width on their back face. High of 4.84m, they are set into annular beams at their head and base, forming 12 superimposed sections.

Radar tower
Photo © Hélène Binet

Each section is offset by a half-grid rotation, breaking vertical continuity. The porosity of the trunk, the alternately arranged posts, their multiple faces, go to form a sort of kaleidoscope beneath the changing light.

Radar tower
Photo © Hélène Binet

The internal volume is open to the air, interrupted only by the lightweight steel structure of the stairwell and lift shaft. Behind its formal simplicity, this construction boasts a complex structural functionality, particularly in the face of wind.

Radar tower
Photo © Hélène Binet

The porosity of the trunk meant that wind tunnel testing was necessary. The tower’s stability is obtained using the principles of a Vierendeel truss system with posts embedded into beams.

Radar tower
Photo © Hélène Binet

This assembly repeated 666 times constitutes a real technical challenge because of the multiple difficulties that it imposes: securing the parts together at altitude, precision adjustment, substantial and complex loading, the density and geometric variation of the sections. This key point was solved with the use of specific concrete connections (Peikko system). Source by Barthélémy Griño Architectes.

Radar tower
Photo © Hélène Binet
  • Location: Saclay, France
  • Architects: Barthélémy Griño Architectes
  • Structural engineering: T/E/S/S
  • Mechanical engineering: MTC
  • Lighting consultant: 8’18’’
  • General contractor: Rabot Dutilleul Construction
  • Prefabricated concrete contractor: Techni Prefa
  • Client: Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne
  • Year: 2016
  • Photographs: Hélène Binet, Courtesy of Barthélémy Griño Architectes
Radar tower
Plans and Section
Radar tower
Assembly detail
Radar tower
Details

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