The public terrace at the Quinconces in Le Mans has been restored to its former glory thanks to French ash
A successful renovation! Le Mans town council called on the Ducerf Group to renew one of its busy public terraces in the town centre. After a bad experience with tropical wood, our family business was chosen, in collaboration with the installation company Dorize, to renovate the 1,200 m2 of the Quinconces terrace from A to Z. The Ducerf Group's expertise was called upon to create bespoke boards in THT ash from Burgundy's forests and to provide meticulous support. The result? Durable and dazzling.
You can't miss it. Just a few metres from Saint-Julien cathedral, right in the heart of the historic district of Le Mans (Sarthe) and the Jacobins quarter, since 2014 the Quinconces terrace has been nestled next to the eponymous park and theatre. Every day, the 1,200 square metre terrace is a popular spot for locals to enjoy a lunch break with colleagues or a summer evening with friends. But this structuring space in the urban area, originally designed in tropical wood, has suffered considerable damage over time. Pedestrian traffic was becoming difficult and dangerous, if not impossible for people with reduced mobility.
Le Mans metropolitan authority then approached the Ducerf Group for a renovation project. The aim? To restore the terrace's splendour and conviviality, while integrating it into the architectural space already established. Delivered in 2022, the Quinconces terrace has since been restored to its former glory. Here's a look back at this unique, large-scale project.
"Meet technical, structural, aesthetic and logistical requirements".
Action, reaction, for this local authority in the Pays de la Loire region. "We had structural problems with the Quinconces terrace, and it was decided that it needed to be completely redone," explains Pascal Dumoulin, head of cultural building management at Le Mans town council. The Ducerf Group drew on its expertise to provide a solution tailored to the site. Starting with the type of wood chosen. The original version of the terrace was made from tali wood, a tropical species from sub-Saharan Africa. Design faults made its replacement unavoidable.
The Ducerf Group recommended using a French species for this project, with the installation of THT ash boards. We were determined to respond with our 100% French products, using wood from forests in Burgundy - Franche-Comté and factories located in Burgundy," explains Thomas Botti, Ducerf Sales Manager, in our report. To achieve this, we had to meet a number of requirements, whether technical, structural, aesthetic or logistical. The use of French timber made it possible to meet the latter requirement, thanks to regular deliveries that prevented any deterioration of the timber segments on site.
Guillaume Martineau, manager of the Dorize carpentry firm that carried out the work, agrees: "One of the key points was to use French wood. Certified PEFC/FSC, the ash selected was then treated by high temperature (THT), which gives it excellent durability and high resistance to weathering, while remaining a 100% natural solution. "This is essential, both to limit the carbon footprint of this type of equipment, and to guarantee its durability, since it is a public space," explains Pascal Dumoulin.
A made-to-measure terrace laid on blocks and resistant to stress
And what about aesthetics? "The Ducerf Group had to manufacture and order a comb to provide the specific grooving for our terrace," explains the manager of the town of Le Mans. This tool made it possible to imitate the appearance of the previous species in a made-to-measure solution, so as not to disrupt the visual composition of the original architectural project.
Structurally, the project was just as demanding. As Pascal Dumoulin recalls: "This terrace must be capable of accommodating festive events and restaurant customers, with a strength of 250 kg per square metre". The terrace also had to be able to accommodate scooters and other forms of soft mobility. "We were able to confirm, with the Ducerf design office, that we could maintain this strength, which is very important, given that we are in a public space.
As well as ash, the new terrace is made from oak and acacia. Guillaume Martineau explains: "It's a deck laid on blocks with oak joists, ash boards and acacia risers. Everything was laid out in advance. We're working on a made-to-measure terrace, which is something quite rare. And when it came to installation, this was a key factor, as the product is better finished, with less downtime and a more attractive finish. The installation was checked by an inspection body, which certified that the earthworks complied with the DTU standards governing waterproofing and work on this type of structure.
"For maintenance, a simple sweep is all you need".
The passage of time has also brought its validation. Once again open to the public in April 2022, the terrace quickly regained its position as a venue for Mance events and long summer days. Above all, not a single blade has had to be replaced since then. A simple sweep is all that's needed for maintenance.
"This terrace is ageing very well," says Guillaume Martineau. The advantage of using THT ash is that "it can be left to grey naturally and, above all, it doesn't require any maintenance", explains Thomas Botti. "Ash doesn't require the application of a saturator, which is ideal for a terrace with this set of constraints. This terrace is a real showcase for the know-how of the Ducerf Group, both in terms of the expertise of our design offices and the quality of the products supplied. This reduced maintenance was enough to convince Le Mans Metropolitan Council. "Less maintenance means less staff needed for in-depth cleaning work," adds Pascal Dumoulin. "Maintenance is simple, which is perfect for a local authority.
"The community received excellent support".
In addition to its technical expertise, the Ducerf Group was also able to support a local authority that wanted to replace a failing building with a sustainable, low-carbon project. "Whether it was the supply of the boards, delivery, site supervision or installation, the local authority received perfect support, and it's a very good investment," emphasises Pascal Dumoulin. Guillaume Martineau adds: "There was real technical support. It's clear that the group has experience in this type of subject.
In the end, our proposal perfectly met the needs of the local authority and the installation company. At the same time, we were able to use wood from French forests. "Guillaume Martineau concludes in our video report: "Thank you for this partnership, and see you soon for new terraces! It's an achievement we're particularly proud of!