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Auchan Pôle Europe shopping centre ETFE roof and façade


ETFE films


ETFE cushion atrium roof and façade

membranes construction with ETFE for auchan’s pôle europe shopping centre

The Pôle Europe shopping centre, which belongs to French department store chain Auchan, is located in Mont-Saint-Martin in the Lorraine region on the border between France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Owing to the large catchment area, more retailing space was required, which made it necessary to extend the existing facility. As a specialist in membrane architecture, seele was appointed to design and build an ETFE façade and the impressive ETFE dome over the central open area.

The dome consists of 122 ETFE air-filled cushions supported by a framework of curved steel circular hollow sections. The 28 x 38m structure weighs about 26t and was delivered to site in separate parts that were welded together on site and given a final coating before the whole dome was lifted into position in one piece. To avoid spoiling the homogeneous overall appearance, seele fitted the air supply pipes for the ETFE cushions between the steel structure and the aluminium clamping profiles. The air supply pipes are therefore hardly visible.

  • The inner and outer layers of the three-layered ETFE air-filled cushions are partly printed with organic lines and zones that lend the incoming sunlight a vibrant, ever-changing quality. Achieving a harmonious blend with the printed glass panes of the existing architecture was one aim of the printing. In addition, the printing on the membrane cushions ensures that sunlight is reflected, which prevents an excessive build-up of heat inside the building. Together with the architect and the owner, seele cover developed many models to create a unique pattern that was applied with digital printing using a new printing technology. The use of this method also influenced the production of the ETFE cushions, which could be successfully adapted to the new printing method.

    The ETFE façade consists of 63 air-filled cushions with identical printing on the inner and outer layers of the three-layered ETFE units. The façade elements ensure an atmosphere filled with daylight inside the extension to the shopping centre. Employing membrane structures for the dome and the façade has resulted in attractive light-filled interior spaces that invite shoppers to take a break.

    Reference overview: © Achim Krug

The large ETFE dome designed and built by seele creates an inspiring spatial feeling and ensures an appealing shopping atmosphere. © Achim Krug
seele’s solution with its almost invisible integration of the air supply lines has resulted in flawless aesthetics. © Achim Krug
The new dome and the façade required seele to fabricate 185 printed, multi-layer ETFE air-filled cushions.

tight timetable and ambitious ETFE printing


The very tight schedule for this project was a challenge. As the minimal tolerances for installing ETFE cushions without creases and ensuring a watertight roof require the utmost care, the timetable for erecting the steel dome structure was especially tough.

However, the intense collaboration in the run-up to site operations, the building of a mock-up and the many models produced for the printing culminated in a successful project completed on time. Numerous printing samples were designed and produced so that the ideas of the architects could be implemented. Building physics calculations had to be carried out to ensure that the energy transmittance (g value) of the membrane cushions could be defined depending on the area of the printed surface. The intensive preparatory phase enabled the printing concept and the constructional solution to be realised exactly as planned. Erection work on site was completed in just four months.

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seele built the 26t steel dome structure and the entire outer envelope in just four months.
A special printing method was used to form patterns on the ETFE cushions which guarantee a reliable reduction in the amount of solar radiation reaching the interior. © Achim Krug
The ETFE dome - one of the highlights of the Auchan Pôle Europe shopping center. © Achim Krug


Client Immochan France, F-Croix
Main contractor Immochan France, F-Croix
Architect VDDT Architectes, F-Lille
Engineer Serue Ingénierie
Date of completion 2016
Scope of work by seele
  • Design, Production, Delivery and Installation of 1.800sqm three-layered printed ETFE-cushions (outer layer and inner layer printed)  for an atrium roof and façade
  • Design, Production, Delivery and Installation of the  steel construction at the roof as a curving framework of steel circular hollow sections