An appealing, totemic building that you sense is designed for festive celebrations and young people, and that you might expect to find in Rotterdam rather than the uber bourgeois St-Cloud neighborhoods. Even if it is only 300 meters away from OMA’s Villa Dalll’Ava.
With its cheerfulness and nonconformism, the building contrasts strongly with the urban development zone in which it’s located, behind a new block of private apartments and next to neo-Haussmannian offices and a day-nursery in a similar style. It is with the facing 1930s infant school that it empathises, extending the metaphor of the balcony courtyard, the passageways, the brick colour and the forecourt. As for the 1970s infant school next door, it maintains an obvious affinity with it in terms of shapes, only to dynamite the whole lot.
All in all it’s an odd little castle and cubist mountain, that owes its existence to the boldness of the Saint-Cloud Town Council, which has thereby acquired facilities that have revitalised its image and opened it to the most contemporary and positive architectural thinking.
This brief provided a real headache: how to accommodate two autonomous programs on a narrow plot of land. KOZ chose to:
- extrude the available area to the maximum height and hollow it out as with canyons that bring a clear and massive outdoor light deep inside the block.
- superimpose the two programs without isolating them, by creating visual links between activities and applying the same principles on all facades and in all spaces.
The spaces are superimposed without being separated. They communicate via visual glimpses: you see each other on all sides, you ‘feel’ each other, you can easily find your bearings in a building with a spatially fluid but unfamiliar layout. Nevertheless, the functional and administrative autonomy of the two activities (separate entrances and different operational timetables) is respected.
A pure colour scheme
The building uses colour very openly and assertively, with a wide palette ranging from red to green, by way of yellow, pink and orange. These colours cover the façade in wide stripes. Inside, the same colours are systematically repeated, like stepping in an oversized graffiti. A colour coding that helps you locate from the outside the areas created on the inside. A means of spatial orientation for young children. An echo to street culture codes for those who crawl on what is dubbed the coolest indoor climbing wall in France,or practice on the pop fencing rows below!
Spaces to be filled
Over and above the pure functionality of the activities identified in the project, the architects placed great hope on the imagination and inventiveness of the occupants. That’s why all corridors, access ramps and passageways, are wide and spacious, up to 3 times the regulation size.
The ramp leading to the outdoor games and training area has been designed along the same lines. Due to its exceptional width, it provides an “additional” space and safely contributes to the strong physical and visual continuity between the Leisure Centre’s internal and external areas. Indeed, it was designed with the aim of making it useable for activities ranging from just running up and down to becoming a small sized outdoor theatre . With no steps and surrounded by a 1.80m railing, it is a secure and private area where children can go alone in complete safety.
A concrete ribbon
The building is a vertical pilling of activity spaces (gymnasium, climbing walls, leisure centre, outdoor area) wrapped in a ribbon of concrete providing unity to the whole . Concrete was the natural choice as it highlights the building’s sculptural appearance while satisfying the requirements of:
- superimposing of large rooms atop the gymnasium with little load bearing possibilities
- acoustic insulation between the two components of the project.
The project is broadly made up of prefabricated concrete load-bearing panels. The moulded and tinted reinforced concrete contrasts with the coloured surfaces of the laminated panels.
The main facade is made of tinted glass with a colour gradient from red to green. The other 3 facades are more homogeneous, albeit coloured too.
A sustainable project
KOZ is part of the “environmentally aware” generation. The openings in the roofs and the glass facades bring maximum natural lighting everywhere to limit electrical consumption. Concrete was chosen for the reasons mentioned above but the preference was for prefabricated concrete, generating less waste and spill. The tinted glass facades provide good protection against setting sun and long-lasting colour. And of course all hot water is solar heated.
KOZ architectes was founded in 1999 by Christophe Ouhayoun and Nicolas Ziesel, both of whom:
- graduated from the Paris- Belleville School of Architecture ;
- lived in the USA when they were children;
- are well-versed in 3D imagery and urban cultures;
- and are completely at home in the debate about managing climate change priorities in the urban environment.
KOZ is a founding member of the PLAN01 Architects Collective, created in 2001 with the Atelier du Pont, Bocabeille-Prégo Architectures and Philéas agencies. With PLAN01 they founded PLAN02, an in-house eco-design engineering office providing real time feedback and orientations for social and environmental responsibility in their projects.
KOZ creates non-typical, freindly and sensitive buildings that redefine public spaces and emphasise the diversity of their uses. KOZ champions architecture that is aware of context and creates surprise and “added value” in terms of function, by making use of residual areas that are easily adapted to stimulate the imagination of local residents, users and visitors.
KOZ regularly carries out wide ranging assignments, including project management, site management, auditing, signage, and furniture Work is organised in accordance with the tenets of precision and autonomy, placing value on skill and creativity. The team is made up of 8 to 12 persons – architects, computer graphics designers, liaison officer and manager. Everyone is involved in information coordination and participation in decision-making throughout the project.
KOZ makes good use of the synergy and experience of the PLAN01 agencies in a 600m2 workspace on the Paris Right Bank.
Text by v2com