The new courthouse at Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, France, has fundamentally changed the judicial life of the island. Previously the services of the Supreme Court were spread over several locations – now they are concentrated in a single court building comprising three courtrooms.
„Apart from the technical constraints underlying the acute function of the services, each court building inevitably poses a challenge to the architecture,” said the architect. The new building planned by Ignacio Prego Architects is a contemporary reinterpretation of the profound symbolism of the judicial area. Located in the heart of the city, the building is designed to reconcile the citizens with the authority of justice. The result is a low, highly glazed building that faces people with a transparent and open appearance, giving them confidence. With its traditionally wide and thick walls, the Palace of Justice symbolizes strength and power, while at the same time its additional façade design – in contrast to usual authoritarian codes of judicial architecture – evokes openness and transparency. Due the glazed façade surfaces facing the street, the Palace of Justice also shows transparency in its function.
Sun protection made of HAVER Architectural Mesh with varying open areas
Heavy rainfall and constantly high temperatures characterize the tropical climate of Pointe-à-Pitre. Trade winds, high humidity and particularly intense sunlight pose a great challenge for the building design. Therefore, the selection of materials and the air conditioning of the building were important aspects in the design of the Palace of Justice.
HAVER Architectural Wire Mesh type LARGO-NOVA 2032 VARIO (with varying apertures) covers the street side of the glass façade. This weave type is made from crimped flat wires and vertical round wires, creating a flat and homogeneous appearance with low transparency. With a precisely adjusted open area of 40 % LARGO-NOVA 2032 VARIO filters sunlight and contributes to a cool but bright room climate. In addition to the passive control of the light intensity, this stainless steel wire mesh allows the reduction of energy consumption.
To create the desired open character of the building, the wire mesh cladding has to provide a high level of transparency, whilst at the same time provide sun protection. In order to achieve this, the open area is increased significantly in a 1.5 m high horizontal area (band) which runs over the width of the entire façade. The mesh in this part of the façade has an open area of 70 % instead of 40 %.
As well as providing a good view from inside to outside, the mesh façade also ensures intimacy for the interior spaces vis-à-vis the busyness of the surrounding streets. In addition to its function as privacy and sun protection, the stainless steel mesh façade protects the glazed surfaces against shocks in the event of violent hurricanes.
From a total of 412m² of stainless steel wire mesh, Haver & Boecker manufactured 24 mesh panels with edge protection profiles on the vertical sides. A particular challenge in the production of the mesh panels was to maintain the exact position of the varying meshes on every mesh element, as well as on the width of the complete façade. The 2.38 m wide and 6.05 m long mesh panels were tensioned and fastened over the entire height of the façade using the fastening system of tension profiles and clevis bolts. This system requires a solid substructure on the upper and lower end of the façade to absorb the resulting loads. After Haver & Boecker provided installation instructions, the customer took over the installation of the complete mesh façade.