A PICTURE OF SIMPLICITY
The context of restructuring and upgrading to standards of the Alfred Costes school in Bobigny is unique: beyond the need to adapt to new teaching methods and standards requirements, we are dealing with a development that lacks consistency in its operation.
The buildings are relatively well arranged in relation to one another in terms of movement flows, limits and points of reference.
The architecture of the site is more or less coherent, but is currently supported in particular by workshop buildings that will be demolished in order to adapt the site to new teaching methods.
However the site offers two key qualities:
It is a wooded area where the way the buildings area set back in relation to the boundaries of the site and the abundant vegetation create the intimacy of a campus. This contrasts with the urban environment and promotes a sense of tranquility and learning.
The buildings express the heritage of an era with their specially engineered concrete mouldings that are typical of the Golden Age of prefabrication.
The questions to be answered are the following:
How can the site be rendered functionally efficient and how can the image of its architectural arrangement be improved, when our work will be yet another ad hoc addition to it?
What characterizes the site today is the simple arrangement of the buildings.
Our architectural approach is to enhance and strengthen this impression of simplicity:
By functional efficiency: the relationships between the buildings are direct and obvious. They are emphasized by awnings, partitioned with fences or visual separators.
Access to the new workshops building is signed and is also visible from the yard.
All our choices for deployment of the programme elements, buildings, external access and internal connections have been designed as a whole to optimize the flows and uses of the buildings while maintaining the quality of the wooded "campus" of the two schools .
The architecture of the new workshops building is a contemporary rewriting of the architecture of the different buildings on the site, characterized by a structural grid that is both present and affirmed.
This structural grid system is the key to the development’s tempo and is interpreted on the building fronts in its transposition into vertical awnings in metal.
This ubiquitous device creates continuity with the existing elements and pays homage to them.
These vertical metal elements are arranged and interpreted with a colour symbol system representing the four teaching methodologies.
The colour patterning encodes a sensitive but joyful variation within the regularity of the grid of the building fronts.
Prefabrication is required because of its effectiveness in the management of a phased work schedule on an occupied site, where every week counts. It is also necessary to provide architectural resonance between the existing buildings, the renovated buildings and the reconstructed buildings and is expressed in the structure of the facades and the use of timber structures for the workshops area.
Generally, the wood will be visible and present - the aim is to make this material an educational vehicle for the building’s environmental performance.