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Versailles "Grand Commun": strengthening a historical monument


The Grand Carré des Offices - Commun, or "Grand Commun", is a building dating from the 17th century located on the National Estate of Versailles, a stone's throw from the Palace. Freyssinet France is involved in a huge restoration programme, commenced in 2010, to breathe new life into the façades and interiors of the historical monument.
 
A number of contractors are working on the renovation of the Grand Commun. Freyssinet is currently using its FOREVA® Wood solutions to restore the floors and timber structure of the East section of the building. This is in fact the second phase of work on the Grand Commun, the West section having been renovated in 2010.
The aim is, on the upper levels, to create metal floors to strengthen the structure of the building. Then, in the attic space, the tie beams will be reinforced using resin compression flanges, and tie rods will be installed at the base of the knee braces. The tie rods removed to repair the floors must also be replaced. In addition, the least damaged wooden beams are being repaired (the most damaged ones, which are difficult to repair, are being removed).
 
We're installing load-bearing structures to prepare the site. Once the metal floors have been completed, the main structure contractor installs a steel tray, into which a concrete slab is then poured," says Jean-Marc, works foreman.

The challenges of the project

Getting the beams on site has turned out to be the operation's biggest problem. "The beams have spans of up to 9 or even 10 metres," explains Jean-Marc. "They have to be brought onto site in small sections, and then spliced together again".
 
Finally, the building's great age (330 years) also brings its own surprises, discovered as the work progresses; the wooden beam anchors are sometimes more damaged than they first appear to be. Some parts of the building are difficult to access, particularly the attic space. The team's expertise in this type of work and Freyssinet's wide range of tools are essential for implementing the best solutions.
"It was Freyssinet's work (as a subcontractor) on the first wing of the Grand Commun in 2010 that won the client over,"
emphasises Bertrand, Business manager. "Then, we reinforced floor beams using resin compression flanges to increase their bearing capacity. The excellent results obtained worked in our favour when we tendered for the second phase of works."

Work started in June 2013, and the team is currently installing truss shoe tie rods. The tie beams will be reinforced at the end of February 2014.





In brief... the Grand Commun

©Château de Versailles

The Grand Commun, officially called the Grand Carré des Offices - Commun, is located on the East side of the Palace of Versailles. Built between 1682 and 1684 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart on the site of the church of St Julien, the building thathoused the officers of Louis XIV in the 17th century is gradually being restored to accommodate the scientific, administrative and technical departments of the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and National Estate of Versailles.

The 82 x 76 m rectangle, arranged around an inner courtyard, has been used for several purposes over the centuries. It originally contained the official residences of the king's officers. In 1793, it was converted into an arms factory and then in 1832 it became the Dominique-Larrey military hospital, which it remained until 1986.

In 1996, having been surrendered by the French Ministry of Defence, it was returned to the National Estate of Versailles.

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