From an old barracks to a modern hotel

Transforming an old barracks into a welcoming hotel is not easy in a first thought - but not impossible thanks to the use of wood materials. In this report, you will learn about the vision of an architect, the experience of an installer and the tales of a hotel manager who together mastered the project of converting the Novotel in Saint-Brieuc.

The Novotel in Saint-Brieuc is housed in a former military barracks. This imposing and authoritarian 19th century building was transformed four years ago into a welcoming and cosy hotel thanks to the redesign by architect Franck Cousin of Studiocaidnun. The laminates and melamine-coated panels used by Pfleiderer in warm oak decors contrast with the strong, cold character of stone and concrete to create a unique atmosphere.

"The challenge in converting such a strong building is to find an equally strong design. It must not spoil the whole and at the same time not take over the main square," explains Franck Cousin, head of the renovation of the Saint-Brieuc barracks into a Novotel hotel, in 2017.

As a common thread in the project, the architect was guided by a range of materials to reinvent this historic building. "The façade of the building is imposing, very reminiscent of the site's legal past. I have therefore tried to create a strong contrast that is a little destabilising by using very contemporary materials inside. This creates a surprise and, in a way, makes the architectural shell fade into oblivion," he notes.

Curved shapes and flowing traffic

For example, the Lancelot Clair oak decorative panels from Pfleiderer are very present throughout the building. They help to emphasise the contrast between the materials. "The walls are made of thick stone and I decided to make the floors out of rough concrete. The oak panels, in a finish that I deliberately wanted to be pure and smooth, bring warmth to the whole. In particular, they allowed me to create curved arches that organise circulation in the common areas," Franck Cousin continues. In fact, many of the original load-bearing walls were demolished. But Franck Cousin did not want to hide the building's history under plasterboard. He preferred to create arches with all their curves leading to the dining room or the swimming pool at the back of the building. These curved shapes create a fluid and even circulation throughout the house.

In the restaurant area, the vaults were reused for a wine cellar. It surrounds the tables like a huge cocoon. Inside, backlit bottles give it a slightly "poppy" touch.

An important technical work

The architect worked hand in hand with several well-known partners. In addition to Pfleiderer as the supplier of the wood materials, the interior designer was no stranger to Franck Cousin "This is not the first project we have worked on together. B déco is a force of suggestion because it knows how to stay true to my plans and fit into a precise budget."

This principle, which has been a great success, has also been implemented in many other projects, including the use of Pfleiderer wood materials. " These are high-quality panels that are available in a very good range," says the designer. The quality of these products is also confirmed by Julien Lefebvre, manager of the Novotel in Saint-Brieuc, who, after four years and a long time in his building, cannot detect any scratches or marks in the surfaces. "They age beautifully, an effect achieved thanks to the good quality of the product and the design of the room," he concludes.

Lancelot Oak decor panels from Pfleiderer

Oak Lancelot Clair R20027 RU by PFLEIDERER is a "rustic" oak decor with many knots and cracks that give it a real look. This look is further emphasised by the structured RU surface, which reinforces the rustic look. 

This decor is available as laminate, melamine faced board and compact boards to cover all possible areas of application: Furniture panelling and fronts, landing doors, wall panelling, bathroom partitions, etc. 

All Pfleiderer surfaces have a basic antibacterial finish and have just been awarded the Blue Angel certificate for their very low formaldehyde emissions (three times lower than the E1 standard in force in France).

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