L'Atoll, Angers, France

All the bespoke double curved perforated aluminium panels required to complete the spectacular archways over the road entrances to the hugely impressive L’Atoll retail complex in Angers were designed and manufactured to automotive precision standards by UK freeform curvature specialists, Formtexx.Antonio Virga Architecte and AAVP Architecture were the architects jointly responsible for the design of this unique landmark project which was managed and built by major developer, Compagnie de Phalsbourg.

Elliptical on-plan and carefully designed to blend in with the landscape’s natural contours, this iconic new development in western France covers a total area of 250,000 sqm. The complex houses dozens of shops and restaurants which are located on either side of a continuous perimeter promenade and in a series of pod units imaginatively set within ornamental gardens that surround and disguise a large central car park.L’Atoll is enveloped by a 3-dimensional curved façade of white powder coated aluminium panels which encloses a circular service road that runs behind the retail units for convenient and secure delivery purposes. The façade panels have been perforated to produce a network of diamond patterns which are further highlighted by a system of backlighting to create an iridescent mesh veil that is particularly impressive at night. The attractive freeform façade also provides an extremely effective acoustic and weather screen for the whole development.

The architect and developer were very keen to maintain the continuity of the freeform façade and patterning throughout the whole complex, particularly around the main road entranceways where it’s most visible to the public. Formtexx was specified right from the initial concept stage because of the company’s proven ability to design and manufacture smooth double curved bespoke panels to extremely high levels of accuracy for use in the automotive industry.

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Operating within a tightly controlled budget and working very closely with the architects and developer to achieve and maintain perfect curvature throughout, Formtexx was able to satisfy the demanding brief by designing and supplying all the double curved architectural panels that were required around both sides of the façade’s road entrance porticos. Complex modelling using sophisticated 3D automotive design software enabled Formtexx to manufacture the bespoke panels to a very high level of accuracy thereby ensuring ease of assembly.

All the façade’s double curved panels were manufactured and laser cut with the intricate diamond pattern by Formtexx in the UK. Each unit, measuring up to 4.0 x 1.5 metres in size, was then tested for accuracy to a tolerance of +/- 2mm before being powder coated and shipped directly to site for final assembly in less than 8 weeks. On installation, all the smooth curved panel sections fitted first time with no reworking or replacements necessary.