Halles Centrales du Boulingrin [Boulingrin Central Market]
Marché du Boulingrin [Boulingrin Market]
Concrete by reinforcement
Concrete is a relatively brittle material that is strong in compression but less so in tension.
To increase its overall strength, steel rods, wires, mesh or cables may be embedded in concrete before it sets. This reinforcement, often known as rebar, resists tensile forces. By forming a strong bond, the two materials are able to resist a variety of applied forces, effectively acting as a single structural element .
In this case, the concrete can be made by mixing the components directly on site, or it may be transported from a production plant in concrete-mixer trucks.
This method has the disadvantage of leaving the concrete exposed to the elements while it is setting. Whereas, with other methods, the environmental conditions can be controlled during setting, providing greater control over the outcome, with cast-in-place concrete a series of tests and protocols are necessary to verify its final strength.
- textured walls
- wooden formwork finish
- stamped concrete
- exposed aggregate concrete, colored concrete, etc.
The shape of the structure as a whole usually coincides with that of the building, as in the case of vaults or domes, for example.
Felix Candela and Pier Luigi Nervi both made exemplary use of this type of structure.
State of Conservation
The market typology – along with railway stations – provides some of the most representative examples of 19th-century iron architecture, widely used in France. Les Halles de Boulingrin is one of the first examples of how the market typology was adapted to a different material – concrete – which offered new possibilities and, consequently, the opportunity of creating a new spatial quality. The commission for Reims consisted in covering over a large space meant to house the market stalls, so an open, unobstructed space was required.
One of the people in charge of the project, the engineer Eugène Freyssinet, is known as one of the inventors of prestressed concrete, which was used for the first time in 1928. As a civil engineer, he built bridges using innovative and daring techniques, but it was his design for the immense airship hangars in Orly, since demolished, that served as the precedent for the market in the city of Reims.
Émile Maigrot and Eugène Freyssinet won the competition for the building in 1922. They proposed covering the space with a very thin reinforced concrete “shell”, just 7 cm thick, and a large vault with a parabolic section. At both ends of the vault, two large windows let natural light into the interior, which is complemented by bringing in light from the sides and the top.
The building, a symbol of reconstruction after the ravages of the First World War, suffered a slow decline until its definitive closure in 1988. The experimental and innovative nature of the structure led to serious conservation problems. It was only saved from demolition in extremis as a result of its declaration as a National Monument. A successful (although extremely complex and expensive) restoration process, which concluded in 2012, managed to return the building to its original appearance.
Rue du Mars 50
Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Région), Gironde (Département) 33300 Reims
Fundación DOCOMOMO Ibérico