ALTA tops compact concrete 'boiler room' with pyramid roof in france

ALTA tops compact concrete 'boiler room' with pyramid roof in france

‘the boiler room’ BY ALTA Architectes Urbanistes


In the middle of an orchard field next to a chapel, ‘The Boiler Room’ by ALTA Architectes Urbanistes is a concrete building designed to blend seamlessly with its surroundings in Saint-Pern, France. The project is intended to improve the heating system of the headquarters of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the adjacent EHPAD, and will be managed by the congregation. Architecturally, it is defined by a cube surmounted by a pyramid with the use of a single dominant material: polished concrete for both roof and facades. However its main objective is to be a single homogeneous mass that communicates a contemporary abstraction without overshadowing the highest point of its neighbor, the spire of the chapel.


The design emphasizes the quality and durability of the materials used as a reflection of existing elements within the area such as using locally sourced  types of stone namely, granite, schist and gneiss. The granite of the courtyards of the Novitiate and the chapel reflects the aspect of the stone found at the Lanhélin quarry.

the boiler room 1
the concrete boiler room

all images by Gaëtan Chevrier



EMBRACING heritage while fulfilling its technical function


ALTA has set the concrete construction on the site to create a form of dialogue with the surrounding architecture. Following an enriching and constructive exchange with the Little Sisters of the Poor, a catholic religious institute for women, the architects chose a contemporary architecture and concrete volume that recalls the site’s heritage. Linking the monolithic volume directly to its heritage while also fulfilling its technical function lead the architects to the design of this boiler room. 


In its facades, the concrete pyramid differs from the surrounding buildings by exposing the raw nature of the concrete in the door and ventilation openings which were constructed using galvanized steel. Their monumental scale also sets the building apart from the surrounding buildings. It was important to conceal the boiler room’s technical side, the wood and oil-fired boilers as well as the chimneys are completely hidden in the roof space. Only the white smoke curling upwards betrays the buildings’ true purpose.

the boiler room 2
galvanized steel doors and windows

the boiler room 6
the chapel located behind the boiler room



The implantation of the building resulted from a precise analysis of the existing site. In line with the Novitiate on the East-West axis and centered on the parcel on the North-South axis, its position on the site gives it its own identity and a certain religious symbolism. The huge galvanized barred gate located in the existing perimeter wall becomes the main access to the boiler room and gives an allegorical perspective.

the boiler room 7
concrete facade expresses minimal interference with the surrounding landscape


the boiler room 8
the boiler room’s emblematic architecture is hidden behind the site’s monumental stone walls

the boiler room 9


the boiler room 3
the orchard

the boiler room 4
a simple glass door entrance

the boiler room 5
detail of concrete facade



project info:


name: The Boiler Room
designer:  ALTA Architectes Urbanistes

location: Saint-Pern, France


designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: zaha mango | designboom

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