In the countryside, where a certain tradition still subsists but where the signs of irreversible change are clearly apparent, the situation of architecture is paradoxical: the building of craft parks, shopping centres, etc. all over France, in uneasy coexistence with historic towns and villages, is fatalistically accepted as a necessary evil, but modern architecture in the country remains an exception, a genuine feat.
The plot chosen for the creation of the new school was relatively small, given the programme. These size constraints led us to devise a linear building situated on the boundary of the plot, in order to leave as much space as possible for a schoolyard with a southerly and westerly exposure.
Joining the building back to back in a corner of the plot made it impossible to create an opening on those sides, which is why a concrete angle wall was created. This wall has transparent glass loopholes to provide natural light, matched on the inside by specially designed lamps with the same elongated proportions. By contrast, the west wall is entirely glass, with windows covering the whole height of the facade on both the ground and first floor, so that the children have a wide view outside and over the surrounding landscape from their classrooms, whether sitting down or standing. The windows are made of sliding panels to provide good natural ventilation, while the electric exterior blinds protect the classrooms from the afternoon sun.
From the concrete square, the structure is generated by sliding two plates in relation to each other, with the whole construction being "held" by the roof. This layout is not only a sculptural trick to create volume effects, it is also a way of providing spaces that can be used in individual ways by children and teachers. These spaces include wide terraces extending from the classrooms and the library, which are directly linked to the courtyard by staircases that also act as exits. On the ground floor, a sheltered space under the overhang of the classrooms provides a play area, avoiding the need to build an extra element.
Beaujolais-Val-d’Azergues Conurbation Committee
1 180 m2 total floor area
€0.95 million before tax, exteriors included
Route de Chazay - Commune de Lozanne (Rhône)
Hérault Arnod Architectes, lead architect
Florent Bellet, project manager
Michel Forgue, economics
Work began June 1996
Building delivered September 1997