Rogers' latest building cracks up

A pounds 27m building designed by the architect Lord Rogers of Riverside to house the law courts of Bordeaux has suffered a major structural fault within days of being completed. Glass fins supporting the facade of the Ministere de la Justice building, handed over last week, shattered after the jointed facade moved.

The striking building displays a series of wooden court chambers, reminiscent of the barrels used to age the local wine, behind a 75-metre glass facade.

The huge expanse of glass, intended to communicate ease of access to the public, is strengthened by vertical glass fins, or mullions, bonded perpendicularly to the facade. But the mullions are breaking. "It has been identified that one part of the assembly does not comply with the agreement for special structures (a 10-year warranty covering novel architectural details). This part of the assembly is being replaced," said a spokesperson for Richard Rogers Partnership.

This is the latest in a run of misfortunes facing buildings designed by Rogers, architect of the Millennium Dome. Last month, the architectural firm agreed an out-of-court settlement with Lloyd's of London. Rogers' most famous Eighties client threatened to sue to recover the cost of replacing some of the building's distinctive exterior pipes which had become corroded. Cost of repair work, said to be in the region of pounds 10m, will now be shared by five firms involved in the building's design and construction.

Rogers' famous 1970s Parisian landmark, the Pompidou Centre, has been closed for a year for a major refurbishment in preparation for the new millennium.

In Bordeaux, architects and contractors have followed the time-honoured pattern by blaming one another for the failure. Richard Rogers Partnership issued a statement saying that "the principal facade of the building (was) designed and supplied by Bluntzer group". But the contractor insists the problem is due to movement in the steel structure of the building - the responsibility of the architects and structural engineers Ove Arup - which is "exerting excessive pressure on the facade".

Gregory Bluntzer said: "There is no problem. It's a few mullions. All the time you can have some troubles like everybody else. I have a big respect for this man, Lord Rogers. We will stop this conversation at this time."

Such difficulties are something of a feature of innovative architecture. Tiles fell off James Stirling's History Faculty Library in Cambridge. Norman Foster's Renault Centre in Swindon had a leaky roof. Room-height glass panes sprang out from the mirror-like facade of the 60-storey Hancock Building in Boston designed by IM Pei. It is the high-tech architects who seem to have the most trouble with new technology and materials. Recently, some of the glass panels that move like scales on the roof of Nicholas Grimshaw's award-winning Waterloo International Terminal became dislodged.

Sometimes, architects fail to anticipate something as obvious as sunshine. The glazed perimeter corridor of Norman Foster's 1971 temporary offices for IBM in Cosham became known as the Ho Chi Minh trail for its unpleasantly tropical climate. More recently, Dominique Perrault's Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris experienced a similar problem. The four massive right- angled glass towers like open books known in France as the TGB (tres grande bibliotheque), had to have screens installed to protect the books inside from direct sunlight.

The glazing technology used by Rogers in Bordeaux is now considered a fairly conventional technique, according to Dr Stephen Ledbetter, director of the Centre for Window and Cladding Technology at Bath University. In the past, architects such as Foster and Rogers have fought to persuade manufacturers such as Pilkington to bring out more innovative products. "Now British architects are a lot more innovative and successful with glass structures. We lead the world in that," said Ledbetter.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?