Agilia®, one of Lafarge's most important recent innovations in concrete, has been instrumental in the completion of one of Le Corbusier's latter designs, the church of St Pierre in the town of Firminy, in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. The church will be inaugurated on November 25.
Originally designed in 1962, the church is representative of the architect's vision of buildings as being in harmony with nature, thanks to the use of oblique lines rather than traditional, stark vertical or horizontal lines. The church was to be the final structure in a series of buildings designed by Le Corbusier for Firminy-Vert, including a cultural centre, stadium and residential unit. The development was classified as a French Heritage site in 1996.
Although construction started in 1973, several years after Le Corbusier's death, it was carried out in fits and starts until 1978 when it was definitively abandoned due to a lack of funds. In 2004 construction re-started and the church was finally completed in the summer of 2006 - more than thirty years after it began. The project came to fruition thanks to the perseverance and patience of José Oubrerie, formerly Le Corbusier's assistant, who oversaw it from the beginning.
According to Jean-Louis Cohen, architectural historian and specialist on Le Corbusier, "The project faced several challenges from a purely technical point of view, for example, transforming what was originally intended as a place of worship into an arts center and adapting it to conform to today's regulations whilst using the latest techniques and innovations. As a result, the building has softer lines and is less 'raw' than Le Corbusier could have possibly imagined."
Different types of Lafarge's innovative, self-placing concrete, mainly Agilia Formes® and Agilia Vertical® were used in the construction of the church. Agilia®'s fluidity makes it particularly suitable for complex structures such as St Pierre's conical-shaped roof. Indeed, such a shape would have been technically very difficult to create during Le Corbusier's life-time.
Agilia® is Lafarge's line of self-placing concrete. It results from combined research in cement, aggregates and additives. Agilia® creates value for Lafarge's customers and contributes to advances in the construction industry, while offering architects new possibilities.
Launched in 2000 in France, it today accounts for 2% of the Group's total concrete sales, and 10% of total profits in concrete. It is marketed in France, Britain, the United States, Canada and Turkey. In 2005, sales of Agilia® grew by 25%. The Group expects its sales of Agilia® to double by 2008. Finally, it represents a formidable growth opportunity and the product line is constantly being enriched.
Note to Editors:
Lafarge is the world leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in all four of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete, Roofing and Gypsum. With 80,000 employees in 76 countries, Lafarge posted sales of Euros 16 billion in 2005.
Lafarge has been committed to sustainable development for many years, pursuing a strategy that combines industrial know-how with performance, value creation, respect for employees and local cultures, environmental protection and the conservation of natural resources and energy. Lafarge is the only company in the construction materials sector to be listed in the 2006 '100 Global Most Sustainable Corporations in the World'. To make advances in building materials, Lafarge places the customer at the heart of its concerns. It offers the construction industry and the general public innovative solutions bringing greater safety, comfort and quality to their everyday surroundings.