Guardian high performance glass delivers vibrant highlight for new French wine centre

Nine hundred panels with gold-coloured Guardian SunGuard® Solar Gold 20 and Guardian UltraClear™ glass, help to create a stunning highlight for France’s latest landmark building.

La Cité du Vin is a new cultural centre in Bordeaux, France, which offers a unique setting in which visitors can learn about wine, its history and influence on civilisation through a range of tours, exhibits and spectacular multimedia presentations. An observation deck on the top of the 55 metre high tower offers a 360° view of the city and the surrounding vineyards.

The building itself was designed by Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières of XTU Architects and makes a strong architectural statement thanks to its bold curves and overall shape which are intended to evoke wine’s soul and liquid nature: seamless roundness, intangible and sensual. Obviously, glass plays an important part in reflecting these aspects.

XTU Architects wanted to use the very best high-performance glass, because of its special role in reflecting light inside and out, while mimicking effervescence. The architects selected French cladding company Coveris to help find the right solution for this high visibility project. They turned to Guardian Glass in Europe, a leading manufacturer of high-performance architectural glass. Guardian’s experience and technical support proved to be invaluable.

Choosing the glass was a long process. It was vital to select the right products that were best suited, both technically and aesthetically. We had to prove the feasibility of many aspects, from the choice of coating to ensuring that the glass could be distorted or curved outwards. Throughout this process there was a very good cooperation with Guardian and the architects.


The design brief required us to find glass with gold reflections. We examined various types of glass, and then we carried out screen printing tests. The Guardian® glass delivered the best results and the most modern aspect.

Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières from XTU Architects

Two types of glass were selected: Guardian SunGuard Solar Gold 20 and Guardian UltraClear. SunGuard Solar Gold 20 is the preferred choice of many architects and designers. Its gold-coloured coating is applied to Guardian ExtraClear® float glass. This has advantages when compared to body tinted glass. Not only does it offer high performance solar control; but also thanks to a good colour rendering index, the colours that can be seen from the inside to the outside of the building are very close to what they are in reality.

Compared to traditional glass, Guardian UltraClear low-iron glass offers high light transmission and greater colour neutrality, letting ‘true’ daylight in to provide an enhanced feeling of space and light.

For the building’s main tower, glass was used to create a separate skin which envelopes the structure, while maximising its aesthetics. In total around 900 individual glass panels were used, some being screen printed with 20 different patterns. All panels are different with maximum sizes of 5.1m x 1.5m. There are three types of panels: monolithic, laminated and triple laminated. The latter type with SunGuard Solar Gold 20 coating applied. All panels were individually fixed on site and guided into place onto 4500 separate fixing attachments from 50mm to 270mm high. The fixing system had to be programmed using special software, because of the building’s specific geometry. The final glass skin covers 2700 square metres.

The screen printing which provides such a stunning effect involved 20 different patterns each applied individually onto the panels. All this contributed to the remarkable way in which both SunGuard Solar Gold and UltraClear are used to magnify the architecture and its appearance. In the words of XTU Architects: “We are delighted with the final result because we think we found the very best solution.”

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