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Architects Select MOSO Bamboo Boards for Higher Roch Tower Exterior

Architects Select MOSO Bamboo Boards for Higher Roch Tower Exterior
Higher Roch tower; Montpellier, France. Courtesy of MOSO.

The architects behind the recently completed Higher Roch tower specifically chose to incorporate the outdoor deck boards by MOSO International, a bamboo expert for indoor and outdoor solutions. Here’s why.

While bamboo is a widely used material in Asia, the demand for it in the Western hemisphere has only begun to grow over the last decade and more so over the last few years. In fact, the Higher Roch tower project in Montpellier, France, completed in June 2022, stands out specifically for the use of MOSO bamboo boards in the construction of its balconies and terraces. The Dutch company MOSO has existed for 25 years but has had a presence in France for only 10 years, at the start of which the company had to develop a demand for the material as there wasn’t any. The implementation of the bamboo boards remains quite remarkable.

The Higher Roch Tower reaches a height of 50 meters and includes a collection of apartments, shops and offices. The deck of the building totals 4,000 m², and the installation team of the bamboo N-durance boards completed the work in six months.

“The notion to use MOSO boards came during the construction phase,” Guillaume Maréchaux, associate director of the agency Brenac & Gonzales & Associés, said in a phone interview with ArchiExpo e-Magazine. “From the beginning, we imagined the surface of the large balconies to be made with wood. Initially, the client desired exotic wood and was interested in a specific typology from Brazil. The construction manager had issues with this, which led us to search for a type of wood with a long life cycle that would also correspond to the trending styles of today. As we examined various samples of different typologies, we came across MOSO.”

Higher Roch tower; Montpellier, France. Courtesy of MOSO.

The team at Brenac & Gonzales & Associés won the competition for the tower of the City Roch project, a stunning victory that set the firm ahead of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in this quest. Although the choice of material for the terraces and balconies hadn’t been decided at this point, coming much later into the construction phase, it allowed the architects to partake in the advancement of a trending material. In regards to cultivating the demand for bamboo, MOSO representatives have been planting the seeds and watching the interest in the material grow. Still, they don’t always know when or where the seeds will sprout.

“Some of the projects happening now are the result of our building partnerships and networks five years prior. It’s the case for the Higher Roch tower. It was a project handled by one of our distributors,” Jean-Pascal Costa, sales director for France and Israel at Moso International BV, said in a phone interview with ArchiExpo e-Magazine. “I can’t say with certainty at what moment they decided to implement our bamboo products into this project. It was a nice surprise. We’ve planted so many seeds that, with time, we have many nice surprises.”

The architects had tested several types of wood, including larch which is known for being resistant to decay and often used for exterior structures and cladding. They focused on what they could find locally—pine and chestnut, for example—and created prototypes to see how the different materials would age in time. Through these tests and more research, they landed on a material that traveled quite a distance: MOSO Bamboo N-durance. The specific type of bamboo used by MOSO for its products comes from China, where its factory is located.

“We needed to find a compromise between the quality, the life cycle and the environmental impact of the material. Wood coming from the East of France and Europe might have been better suited in regards to environmental impact but wouldn’t have necessarily responded well to the question of longevity and resistance of what we needed for this project,” said Guillaume Maréchaux.

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The Higher Roch tower represents the first opportunity for the architects to integrate the MOSO boards into one of their projects. Despite the challenge of the many curves seen in the facade of the tower, the construction of the terraces with the bamboo boards worked well. According to Guillaume Maréchaux, they’d drawn the facade with so many curves and generously sized balconies that constructing the tower didn’t seem exactly rational, making the choice of material for the balconies that much more important.

“After winning, we said ‘now we have to build it’,” said Maréchaux.

And they did. The Higher Roch tower project began in 2015 with years of research to follow; it required a number of validations throughout the process and assistance from the local government to ensure regulations were being met. The mayor inaugurated the tower in June 2022 with flamingo dancers performing on the terrasse.

Bamboo N-durance Boards for a Seamless Installation

While MOSO develops a wide range of bamboo products for interior and exterior use, the architects of the Higher Roch tower chose the N-durance boards which have gone through the company’s “outdoor-density” process. The company made these boards specifically for a seamless installation, which can be done with no expansion gap between the ends of the boards, a unique attribute for (hardwood) decking. The MOSO fixing clips allow for quick and easy installation. 

“We have many typologies but [the architects chose] the outdoor boards for the Higher Roch tower. These products are densified and treated specifically for outdoor applications. The advantage of the exterior boards is their extreme stability,” said Jean-Pascal Costa.

The N-durance boards come in either a ribbed or smooth surface. Fasteners are used for quick and easy installation; the clips are placed in the grooves on the sides of the board and screwed into the joists, so the installation doesn’t require pre-drilling the decking boards, as in the case of a screwed installation.

Other products for interior and exterior applications include flooring, panels/beams/veneer and unlimited. Unique ‘unlimited’ solutions can meet exceptionally high requirements from project partners, like flexible and fire-resistant bamboo ceilings, and customized solutions for industrial clients like BMW and Dell. The brand offers a broad assortment of solid bamboo panels, beams, veneer and Flexbamboo in various sizes, thicknesses, colors and textures. 


READ about the eco-certifications attributed to MOSO bamboo boards and how the material is considered sustainable.

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