Hellemmes Technicentre : Back to the Future

Located on the outskirts of Lille, this flagship SNCF industrial facility built in 1873 is undergoing a major renovation in order to get up to speed with the firm’s environmental and energy efficiency goals, but also with the French regulations on energy transition and the Paris climate agreement (COP21).

Ever since the facility was built 145 years ago, it has been regarded as a landmark within the local industrial landscape. Every day, 1000 people fill with life the 95,000 sqm of the Hellemmes Technicentre, the oldest and largest SNCF industrial facility. It is a city within the city, a hub for all things renovation, repair (TGV, Eurostar, Thalys) and maintenance, but also innovation thanks to an engineering division tasked with producing next-generation train concepts.


Fostering green energy production

The site is the first of its kind to get in tune with the French government’s decision to reduce CO2 emissions associated with the construction industry. Within this context, AREP drew on its multifaceted technical expertise in energy, environmental, economic and legal matters to put forward a project that meets the requirements of the E+ C- label (positive energy building with low carbon emissions), the new energy efficiency standard to come into effect in 2020 (watch the video below for more). The future Technicentre will go beyond the 2012 regulations on energy efficiency (insulation, natural lighting, heating, etc.) to experiment with renewable energy production through a rooftop photovoltaic system of a 1.8 MWc capacity. The goal is dual: to be protected from energy price volatility while taking full advantage of an installation whose benefits will be felt over the next 12 years. The 9,000-square-metre rooftop power station will not only allow to store energy and use it for self-consumption, but also to sell the excess back onto the grid or to neighbours.

User-centered (re)design

Besides this leap forward, the Technicentre will provide enhanced working conditions in a brand new state-of-the-art building that will transform the maintenance process. In the workshop, the tracks will be replaced by a system of lifting roads, on which trains can be moved easily to the required position for maintenance and repair. More than a new chapter in a long history, the project expresses the intention of both SNCF and AREP to redesign an industrial building by keeping a step ahead of the game and an eye on the future. What if the oldest industrial rail facility in France were also the one of the future?

* Written by Damien Guillou, based on texts by Jean Baptiste Lefeuvre