Courbevoie, a residential district without any real urban markers, has two elementary schools located in the same block and sharing the same playground, but not the same school principal. One school was named “Logie” and the other “Anatole France”. As the need for public space grew, the City of Courbevoie decided that it wanted an extension, which it thought would be common to both schools.
BP Architectures, which was invited to bid on the project, did not see things quite the same way; instead of the ground plan sketched out by the municipal services, BP proposed not one but two extensions; two buildings within the same construction, twin structures arranged perpendicular to each other so that the observer has the strange sensation of seeing the same object from two different angles. Designing two buildings instead of one, allowed each individual school to achieve its own optimum functioning.
On either side, a deliberately sturdy mineral base to enclose the schoolyard and house the technical premises, servicing areas and bathroom facilities.
Above the base, a vibrating, golden metal box housing a floor dedicated to classrooms with a library looking out onto the city, turning knowledge and study into figureheads of the school, and in both cases, slanted walls serve as the pupils’ entrance. As a result, the playground area was enlarged and even included a vegetable garden: a solution that made everyone happy!
The two extensions shimmered. The façades of the metal boxes were covered with anodized aluminum clapboard in three 3 colors: champagne, bronze and gold, giving the buildings an attractive, sparkling look. The structure as a whole produced an impression of abstract vitality.
These two structures, with their highly contemporary style, recompose the city block, making it more compact and lively. A bland district is turned into a landmark neighborhood.
The design aimed for simple volumes with an identifiable architectural meaning. The project is part of a heterogeneous fabric without any dominant architectural style, which is typical of the outskirts of Paris. The two extensions built on two streets of a single block, create a strong, structuring identifying element by repeating the motif. The project helps give an “order”, an identifying, recognizable signature, to the district.
A mineral base, made of stained self-placing concrete, form the ground floor and the walls enclosing the playground. The regular vertical piercing and the vertical layout of the concrete punctuate and animate these façades. These bases support the metallic volumes forming the floor above including the façades giving onto the street which are broadly lit by a succession of bay windows of varying heights and covered with a 3-tonne grid made of anodized aluminum wall rails (gold, bronze and champagne) that dematerialize the volume as the light changes.
The wall rails have a twofold purpose: arranged vertically in an irregular, random pattern, they serve as a canopy while contributing to the aesthetic signature of the project. These volumes stand out slightly from the bases at a slant to form shelters for the pupils’ entrance to the Logie School and the top of the planted square at the corner of rue Armand Silvestre and rue Cayla for the Anatole France School.
The gables of these volumes, which are entirely glassed in, open widely onto the public space. They enhance the flagship element of the whole school: the library, which is naturally located here in each of the extensions.
Client: City of Courbevoie, France
Surface Area: 2,200 m²(23,700 sqf)
Building Cost: €3.1 million ($4million)
Project Manager: BP Architectures
Contracting Companies: CERP, Roger Renard, LEBRUN, ALMA