Les Ateliers des Capucins, Brest

Conversion of the old industrial area "Capucins", in Brest.


For many years, the heart of the city of Brest, on the outer tip of Brittany, has beaten to the rhythm of the naval dockyards, the Arsenal. This truly industrial zone orientated towards the sea and the French Navy defined the economic life throughout the region. The factory halls in the Ateliers des Capucins occupied a prime spot.


For the conversation the proposal of architect and urban planner Bruno Fortier, in collaboration with the Atelier de l’Ile studio, was chosen. He proposed to create an ecologically oriented urban quarter (with a mix of residential and office buildings) as an extension of the city centre on the 16 hectares of the Capucins industrial zone.


For the doors and glazing, steel was choosen for a sophisticated design and mechanical strength.

The key elements are clearly the large frames placed between granite columns, which encircle the building. Their dimensions are mind-boggling: 12 m high and 7.2 m wide. Through some of these huge openings, the gigantic engines and propeller shafts had to pass before being installed in the ships further below. Now, they light up the interior spaces with abundant natural light, and yet provide good thermal insulation at the same time and a spectacular view of the outside. These extraordinary dimensions require not only highly-skilled metal workmanship, but also a type of profile capable of satisfying the stringent demand for both aesthetics and mechanical strength. Resistance to wind loads and the load-bearing capacity of the glazing are crucial features for these construction elements. Some frames are fitted with double swing doors of 5 x 5 m that can still be easily operated with one hand.

Brest, France

Atelier de L'ile, Brest, France

Metal worker: Renourad SA, Loudéac, France

System: forster unico