Equerre d’Argent 2012, special mention
This school stands out for its unique spatial organization and facade design within its surroundings. Its unconventional form distinguishes it from the adjacent rigid social housing developments in the ‘Province de France’ area of Nanterre. Moreover, it offers a perspective towards the Paris business district, La Défense.
The school complex is strategically situated along the bustling Route Nationale 314, with the site thoughtfully excavated and landscaped with earth mounds and greenery.
The school’s layout revolves around two courtyards, each tailored to provide different outdoor spaces for children. The kindergarten courtyard takes on a square shape, while the elementary school courtyard adopts a trapezoidal design. To the south of the campus stands the gymnasium, and to the east lies the ‘Centre de Loisirs,’ a full-day care facility that also serves as a neighborhood hub with its library and documentation center.
The primary entrance to the school is located in the north, beneath the projecting volume of the library. Visible from Rue de Savoye, it offers a spacious covered forecourt for parents and children, complete with bicycle racks. The positioning of the lodge allows for visitor and student control, while young children have direct access from the covered outdoor area to the kindergarten’s hall. The entrance to the elementary school is on the west side, accessible from the forecourt via a covered walkway along the building.
A corridor envelops the entire school building, featuring variously sized windows that provide direct access to classrooms and facilities. This corridor also serves as an effective noise buffer for the classrooms, all of which face the courtyard. Thanks to their orientation, all classrooms enjoy abundant natural light and a tranquil atmosphere.
The kindergarten, comprising five classes, spans two floors and is accessed through the entrance hall. Common facilities, such as the computer science room, library, exercise room, music room, and language laboratory, are easily reachable by students from all three institutions. Teachers have confirmed that the building’s layout is extremely child-friendly.
The elementary school consists of nine classrooms, with two on the ground floor and seven on the first floor. Three of these classrooms feature spacious terraces.
The cafeteria, complete with a self-service area, serves both the kindergarten and elementary school and is centrally located between the two courtyards.
Linoleum flooring was used throughout the school, with classrooms featuring varying colors distinct from the common areas. Each classroom is equipped with acoustic panels and wall filling boards made of perforated aluminum with built-in absorbent material. Wooden closets were custom-built to store school supplies in the classrooms.
Wooden bench seats with integrated shoe racks and coat hooks line the corridors outside the classrooms, providing functional and comfortable transitional spaces.
The gymnasium is situated to the south of the school complex and is accessible via transparent polycarbonate panels, offering covered access from both the school and the kindergarten.
The facades are constructed from untreated pine slats, arranged in a pattern of alternating cut and glass surfaces, creating a dynamic visual effect. To maintain privacy from adjacent residential buildings, the facade of the day school is intensified and extends over the windows. Together with the green roofs, the facade forms a cohesive and visually striking contrast to the urban surroundings.
Architect: Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes
Structural Consultant: Ingerop