Périne Huguet:"A way to prove that gray matter's fight against gray energy can be won"

érine Huguet, national winner for France and international finalist of the Green Solutions Awards 2016 in the Hot Climates category, looks back on the project she presented to the competition: the headquarters of the National Park of Guadeloupe. This exemplary realization – in so many ways - deserves closer attention.

Périne Huguet: I am an architect and founding member of Atelier 13, a collective of architects in Guadeloupe for more than 10 years. The architectural group Atelier 13 was created to put together, various complementary and different competences such as:


  • Control of bioclimatic construction and high environmental quality in tropical humid environments
  • The design and scenographic approach of the premises
  • The patrimonial approach 

Atelier 13, Collective of architects since 2006 with a production oriented

towards buildings with great environmental value, towards patrimony

and also towards those which receive public and design.

What was your role in the realization of the Headquarters of the Guadeloupe National Park and who was involved ?

P. R .: I was the mandatary architect of the team which created   the Headquarters of the National Park of Guadeloupe. The team was also composed of: Eric Ramlall, Laurent Lavall, Frédéric Pujol architects, BIEB structural design office and VRD, A2E fluids design office, Robert Célaire HQE consultant engineer, Agence TER landscape architect and Laurent Séauve in charge of photovoltaic study  and energy monitoring. 

How the project was born?

P.R .: The project of the headquarters of the National Park of Guadeloupe was the subject of an architectural contest in 2007. The will of the client was displayed straight from the program. In addition to a place easily identified as the National Park by the public and partners, he wanted  a place that carries the values ​​of the park institution, meaning the respect, protection and preservation of nature and the Guadeloupean environment, exemplarity, knowledge and values transmission.


What was the unifying thread of your approach?

PR: We designed the project as an exemplary building on every level. Exemplary through its integration within the site,  its control of energy consumption and CO2 balance, its comfort , the conviviality of its workspaces and meeting rooms, the image of the institution it conveys, its respect for the closest and more general Guadeloupean environment.


What solutions did you implement to respond to the challenges of tropical climates?

PR: We imagined and built a building that lands delicately on the ground, a building which respects the site, the surface water flows, soil permeability, remarkable planted trees, the topography and atmospheres... A building that opens to natural winds to create an optimized natural air conditioning. A building that allows us to admire faraway landscape and the surrounding nature. A place we penetrate in like in an underwood, where the sound of water running between rocks welcomes you and where nature appears to bring cooling and tranquility.

For a CO2 balanced and a perfect integration in the natural site we opted for a full wooden building conforming to the contour lines of the land. Since the wood industry does not exist in Guadeloupe, we first went for wood species of sustainably exploited forests and then we imagined covering the ventilating facades of the spaces of circulation and encounter with raw trunks of young trees (formerly operated as stands in construction). This approach, in collaboration with the ONF (French National Office of the Forests), allowed us to introduce local wood as the client wanted but also giving the interior light the typical under wood atmosphere of the Guadeloupe forest.

For the thermal comfort of the workspace, we first controlled the external heat inputs with an envelope and a perfect adapted shape :

  •          Reinforced roof insulation and / or a green roof,
  •          Façades in double skin of wood cladding protected by the disbursements of roofing,
  •          The ventilating windows with blades, dimensioned enlarged protected by sunshades calculated according to the orientations,
  •          Vegetal masks and completely green surroundings (including the car parks of course).

Then we optimized the natural ventilation with a central patio in the neck opening to the dominant winds, offices crossing systematically through the building and with very wide ventilating openings, spaces of circulation and meeting in direct contact with the outside by simple grids dressed with young tree trunks

When winds are lacking, every rooms are equipped with ceiling air stirrers. Then, with the active participation of users, we could control the energy consumption of greedy devices :

  •          general DEL lighting
  •          mean temperature at 25°C for server room (the only one in the building)
  •          more efficient computer server
  •          hot solar water heated by a water heater with thermosiphon
  •          generalized presence and brightness detectors
  •          and of course natural light optimized by large windows, systematic double exposures and sunshades like shelves of light to reflect natural light and save a few minutes on the evening lighting time.

Thanks to the quality of the envelope, equipment and surroundings, we obtain a building with a very low energy consumption, we succeeded in our Negawatt approach (sobriety, efficiency, renewable) by installing over the patio and the bathroom a 36kW photovoltaic field in self-consumption calculated to satisfy more than 100% of the building's energy requirements. We thus realized the first tertiary building with positive energy in self-consumption photovoltaic in Guadeloupe.

We pushed the bioclimatic approach to the extreme, with all along the design some informal meetings and exchanges with future users and residents. This approach allowed us to obtain the support of all for an optimized use of the building.

Precisely, what are the returns of the occupants and users?

PR: Thus, this non-air-conditioned tertiary building - a performance in a tropical humid climate - has been adopted by all with a real sense of well-being, a "zen and friendly" atmosphere, encouraged encounters and exchanges, resurgent cohesion in the National Park team.

The performance of the building has been checked within 3 years of operation, the satisfaction of the users (both employees and visitors) was expressed to us many times during our visits.

What did participation in the competition and winning the prize bring you?

P.R .: During the Green Soluttions Awards 2016, the national and international recognition of our consistent sustainability approach brought us real satisfaction and full recognition.

This is the outcome of years of investment of intelligence and human energy of a whole team (a real war against all skeptics) to prove that the fight of gray matter against gray energy can be won. Proof that building pleasant, comfortable and environment-friendly spaces to live and work in doesn’t always require huge technological means, but always a lot of common sense.

Atelier 13, Collective of architects since 2006 with a production oriented towards buildings with great environmental value, towards patrimony and also towards those which receive public and design.

Moderated by : Julien MARQUES

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