NANTERRE – The Canine Brigade was recently completed by TRANSFORM and DS Architects in Nanterre, France. It is a centre for police dogs and the law enforcement units they work with.
One of the main materials used in the project is gabion, a wire framework construction filled with rocks usually used for retaining walls. It was designed to act as ‘a link between the idea of protection and the concept of landscape’. Gabion is intended to act as a protective barrier for the centre which is in an ‘industrialised environment hostile to the presence of the police’.
Wire mesh used in gabion is an industrially produced material filled with hand-arranged natural stone. It has both a machine-made and rural aesthetic which adds an interesting duality to the project. The material evokes ideas of fortress-like constructions, which is appropriate since it is a centre for security dogs, but there is also something comforting and rustic about the material. Gabion is also well-suited to the rural/industrial location of the centre. It is an old material with a new interpretation. It provides subtle detailing that is practical and rough yet beautiful.
Steel, concrete, corrugated iron, tar and asphalt are also used in this project. They are easy to clean and maintain and generally have impervious surfaces which reduce the spread of bacteria and diseases and are an important consideration in animal shelter design.
The Canine Brigade centre is made up of three separate units – administration rooms, a dog care unit and shelters. The shelters are further divided into three zones for attack dogs, sniffer dogs and quarantine boxes which each have roofed areas and open air courtyards.
There is a duality of design for people and dogs.
Areas designed for humans are fully enclosed and meant to be shared, while canine areas are almost completely exposed to the elements. Each of the shelters has an open wire mesh front as per animal shelter design requirements and there is a gap between the walls and roof. Dog units are staggered or facing one direction so the animals do not see each other, to minimise any potential confrontations.
Photos courtesy of Julien Lanoo