This project to build a post-secondary school, part of the redevelopment of the Croissant, a residential sector located to the westof the main square of la Défense, directly addresses the questions of urban insertion and the articulation of scale. How can one insert a building into an already densely built environment and participate in the extension of Nanterre’s downtown area while preserving the residential character of the existing neighborhood?
The challenge is in effect to symbolize the building’s educational mission through its layout, form, and scale and also to allow it to exercise a broader influence over its immediate and more distant surroundings. This need for urban dialogue is embodied in the proposal of the most compact project possible that offers a variety of perceptions and which opens up views across the city. The common spaces have been grouped together on the ground and first floors as a kind of transparent base that enlivens the boulevard de Pesaro and reveals the school’s daily life to the outside world. This base faces mostly to the south, towards a large, mineral plaza, and to the north, overlooking the ramp, which has been transformed into a green space. The readily accessible middle floors contain classrooms and the library while the two upper floors house the administrative offices and the auditoriums. The organization of double-height spaces seeks to stimulate and encourage interactions between the students, teachers, and administrative staff, as well as to ensure an optimal level of flexibility of use. The form of the school is a vertical campus where the full spaces (classrooms, library, auditoriums, etc.), help stimulate these interactions as much as the empty spaces that are devoted to circulation (passageways, stairwells, and balconies that look out over the city).
The façades have two layers: the first one, which is light, delicate, and metallic, reflects the surrounding environment while at the same time creating a sense of visual contiguity. This perforated membrane also provides protection against the sun. The second, “thicker” façade fulfills the building’s thermal performance requirements. Facing la Défense, two windows looking out over the city open the school’s common spaces to the outside. At night, this relationship is inverted.
Client: Hermitage / Cost: € 9.7M excl. VAT / Surface: 6 210 m² / Schedule: 2014 – 2018 / Structure: Arcadis / M.E.P.: BETHIC / Constructor: Bouygues Immobilier / Façade: Joseph Ingénierie / SASTEC