Jean Moulin High School
Nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2017.
The Jean Moulin High School is located on a steep slope site. Turning these constraints into a major advantage, a “balcony in the forest” is created. The buildings are absorbed into the folds of the landscape, then entirely covered with a green roof. Rather than dealing with architecture as objects, here we have chosen to explore architecture as a living environment.
The new Jean Moulin High School is located in the city of Revin, on a hill along the Meuse river, in France. The project consist of the construction of a high school, with a central building of over 11000 m², a residence for students, housing for teachers, a gymnasium, and 6,5 hectares of landscaping and site development.
The site is surrounded by forest, steep hills and gentle slopes. The new school closely follows the topography of the land, it literally sticks to the bedrock which it occupies, from the crest of the plateau all the way to the residential area that separates it from the river.
The school is principally made of a green roof that helps to make a smooth transition between the built and natural environments, combining tall trees, bushes and ‘rock chaos’. The roof is cut by glass, the classroom's window providing wide panoramic views to the valley.
The entire new High School offers an architecture that is both radically innovative in its reconciliation with nature, whilst also being in tune with the spirit of an age that is conscious of energy issues. The ambition was to mimic the mountain silhouette and to redress the building as far as possible in vegetation. The educational elements of the programme are distributed across two long, low buildings (referred to as ‘strips’.). These buildings are arranged in terraces that provide all the classrooms wide panoramic views to the south west. The two rows are well spaced and strips of roofing swell into folds, with vertical and oblique windows to provide good overhead lighting.
The ‘Agora’, as it is called, adheres to the slope and winds down to its lowest point in a series of ramps, discreetly echoing the curves of the river. From these ramps you gain access to classrooms and workshops, through wide corridors that are also open to the air, and can be used for evacuation in case of emergency. ’La Place’ is a large, friendly space for breaks and recreation, whilst enabling people with disabilities to use the space.
The new High School is built on a concrete basement (technical floor) supporting a wooden structure made of local forest exploitation. The walls of the first floor (classrooms) are made of a wooden framework while the roof consist of wooden building elements, a Scandinavian process called Kerto Ripa. These pre-fabricated panels include ready ceiling surface, thermal insulation, roof covering. The “Agora” is supported by a mixed wood and steel space frame. The green roof consist of pre-cultivated rolls of vegetation, including ten varieties of sedum and mosses which appearance changes with the season.
The new Revin High School has the ambition, not only, to rehabilitate the school complex, but also the hill that it occupies. This re-appropriation of the relationship between nature and buildings results in the integration of the buildings into the site's morphology, the attenuation of the building interfaces and the careful management of energy. In addition, the reuse of waste resulting from the selective deconstruction of buildings, as well as the use of sustainable and natural materials from the local sector will minimize the project's environmental footprint.