Service and rest area
A moment of peace amongst an ancient forest
Halfway between Lyon and Bretagne, the A85 highway invites drivers to stop and enjoy a restoring halt in the middle of the famed Sologne forest. Designed for the French energy company Total, the project consists in a rest area with a conjoined restaurant and convenience store, a filling station and various service amenities.
We conceived the masterplan with the intent to preserve the beautiful surrounding forest and to create a strong connection with it. The circulations are organised so that travellers can immerse themselves into the serenity of the site, with generous open spaces enabling them to experience being within the surrounding nature.
The building is set in a clearing, at a respectful distance from the wood’s edge. Its lay-out is orchestrated to guide visitors towards the seating areas looking onto the natural landscape. Departing from the terrace, a path weaves itself between the first layers of trees, leading to recreational stations that promote an awakening of the senses to the intimacy of the forest.
An architecture that enhances the link with the forest
A red cedar cladding forms the main skin of the building. Planks of various tones are randomly mixed to create a lively texture and anticipate the heterogenous aspect of ageing. The wood has been thermo-oiled, a low temperature treatment that preserves longevity without harmful chemicals or high energy expenditure.
The restaurant features fully glazed façades opening onto the forest and establishing connections with the peaceful surroundings. The angled wooden mullions of the curtain wall echo the organic pattern of the tree trunks in the background.
The roof cantilevers over three sides of the building. It creates a generous covered terrace for the visitors and protects the glazed facades from the overheating sunshine. The shaded terrace offers much needed additional resting space during the busier summer months.
In a deliberate inversion of architectural convention, a translucent glass box accommodates the public servant spaces, bringing them unusual luminosity. At night, their gentle glow irradiates the surroundings like the screen of a shadow theatre.
This rest station carefully deconstructs towards the forest
In a carefully layered progression, the Romorantin service area brings its visitors away from the minerality of the highway into a moment of rest amongst green beds of heathers and herbaceous plants, facing the thought-inspiring trees of an ancient forest that found its origin in the Middle Age.