Innovative door technology in La Rochelle’s listed town hall

Historic buildings are significant cultural assets. Listed buildings are therefore subject to certain requirements when it comes to renovation and modernisation. In the historic town hall of La Rochelle, a French coastal city in the département of Charente-Maritime, modern GEZE door systems ensure that the heritage-protected architecture is preserved while making the town hall accessible to all.

France’s oldest town hall in La Rochelle is a listed historic building

The historic arcade walkway leads to the modern entrance door.

The historic arcade walkway leads to the modern entrance door. © Aline Nédélec / GEZE GmbH

The town hall has been on the same site since the city of La Rochelle was founded in 1298, making it one of the oldest still in use in France. It was built in the Gothic and Renaissance styles and, with its crenellated curtain wall, small corner turrets and watchtower with a ceramic statue of the French King Henry IV, is among the city’s most significant historic buildings.

Public areas are bright and accessible thanks to automatic all-glass sliding doors.

Public areas with automatic all-glass sliding doors. © Aline Nédélec / GEZE GmbH

Renovating a listed building

In 1861, the historic building was placed under heritage protection and underwent extensive renovation to restore some of the original elements and carry out necessary modifications and upgrades. La Rochelle town hall has now undergone vital renovations for a second time. This work followed a fire that spread to all roof areas in the historic part of the building, which caused the structure to collapse. Given the scale of the damage and the historic building’s cultural value, the extensive reconstruction posed considerable challenges. The most significant challenges undoubtedly lay in restoring the listed sections of the building to their original condition. At the same time, areas open to the public needed to be redesigned in line with modern standards on safety and accessibility.

Under the leadership of Philippe Villeneuve, a renowned chief architect of historic monuments also responsible for the restoration of Notre-Dame, the project to reconstruct and renovate the historic town hall lasted almost six years. However, these efforts have paid off: the historic architecture now shines with new splendour and La Rochelle town hall offers outstanding convenience and accessibility to all visitors.

The reception desk is behind an automatic all-glass door that makes sure the entrance to this historic building is accessible to all.

The reception desk is behind an automatic all-glass door. © Aline Nédélec / GEZE GmbH

A bright reception area thanks to automatic all-glass sliding doors.

A bright reception area thanks to automatic all-glass sliding doors. © Aline Nédélec / GEZE GmbH

Automatic sliding door systems ensure accessibility

Ensuring accessibility in the historic town hall was a key aim of the extensive renovation and modernisation project. The public areas are now bright and clear thanks to the automatic all-glass sliding doors installed in the foyer. The automatic doors ensure that the building is accessible to all visitors, including people with reduced mobility.

Discreet design supplements historic architecture

Automatic doors with GEZE Slimdrive door drive systems have been installed in the building’s foyer. With an installation height of just 7 centimetres, the door system blends in seamlessly with the historic architecture. One of the automatic sliding doors is behind an original door, which has been retained in the façade. This made it possible to retain the listed façade while ensuring modern access convenience within the building.

Beyond the vestibule in the foyer, another automatic all-glass double sliding door leads to the reception desk. The sleek stainless steel fittings (for the all-glass sliding doors) meet the exacting design standards while also ensuring maximum transparency and allowing in as much light as possible.

More about all-glass systems

All-glass sliding doors and access control systems separate public areas from offices.

Access control systems separate public areas from offices. © Aline Nédélec / GEZE GmbH

User-friendly access controls – a must for public buildings

The benefits of modern door technology are clear to see in all parts of the building that need specific access authorisation. At La Rochelle’s historic town hall, two automatic doors provide access to administrative areas that only town hall employees are permitted to enter. A GEZE Slimdrive automatic door has been equipped with an access control system that only gives access to authorised persons. A second automatic door serves as a one-way exit from the offices into the foyer. Our modern door technology therefore supplements the historic architecture with accessibility and excellent convenience.

More about access control


Further benefits of GEZE Slimdrive door drives:

  • Ultra-smooth, low-wear DC drive
  • Can be connected and integrated in building management systems via CAN bus
  • Independent error protection and logging
  • Freely configurable entrances and exits for various applications
  • Integrated battery for emergency opening in case of safety-related faults, e.g. power loss
  • Reduced maintenance requirements thanks to self-cleaning roller carriages