The École Nationale Supérieure d’Ingénieurs de Bretagne Sud (South Brittany engineering school) is a new department on the Saint-Maudé university campus dedicated to pure science. Designed as a city campus, the building is firmly rooted in its urban environment while staying true to the site’s wooded character.
A hybrid collection of built structures and landscaped areas, its iconic shape makes it easily identifiable. The planted terraces mark the entrance to the heart of the school. The architectural style, combining large panels of wood and aluminium cassettes, is resolutely understated while creating a highly pleasant environment with the interplay of planted terraces, ideal for student life. The building rises up like an urban beacon with its distinctive moving lighting produced by LEDs set into the façades.
The site is divided into two sections. In the north, the project keeps its distance from the motorway roundabout with a fairly hermetic prow. In the south, the site gradually opens out onto an area that is wooded rather than dense, as two side wings positioned on the plot’s boundaries follow this movement. They enclose a central area and delineate the school’s plaza, adorned with a planted pond. The plaza gives onto a pedestrian path that links all the campus buildings together. Further south is a carpark, planted with plenty of trees to reduce the vehicles’ visual impact.
Focus on a compact, energy-friendly and welcoming environment
Characterised by compact size and graduated south-facing terraces, the building comprises two wings with four floors and a top floor laid out in a V-shape that encloses a lower central space. The development includes traditional university facilities (amphitheatre, classrooms, cafeteria, staff accommodation, etc.) and specific amenities like laboratories and workshops.
The shared unifying elements are grouped together at the heart of the project: the amphitheatre and cafeteria open directly onto the main lobby and reception. The amphitheatre is designed as a dihedral shape with the wall on the lobby side mostly glazed. A sliding panel conceals the opening. Artist David Saltiel was consulted about the design of this central room during the competition phase.
The large staircase that unfurls like a ribbon around the central area to provide easy access to the classrooms mirrors the shape of the terraces, its successive flights mimicking the lines of the roof.
The design of the different spaces introduces a deliberate dichotomy between the central monolith, compact and bright yellow, and the building’s two wings that encircle it with their high narrow openings. The outer surface accentuates this distinction: the façades on the prow, sheathed in metal, form a protective layer against the roundabout. Walls on the interior and in teaching rooms are, by contrast, clad in wood. The unbroken flights of stairs with their full-height glazed façades highlight the passageways. This relationship between indoors and outdoors contributes to quality of use at this university site.
A wide range of environmental systems have been implemented to meet sustainable development concerns: external insulation, temperature regulation reinforced by ground-coupled heat exchangers and a gas boiler, a roof valley system for harvesting rainwater that feeds into the plaza pond, and a permeable planted carpark ground to allow rainwater to infiltrate. The layout based on south-facing terracing provides the building with optimal heat from the sun. Roofs are designed as planted terraces and equipped with PV panels. All these elements not only have a beneficial environmental impact, they also confer a landscaped character on the site and help to create a strong identity for the project.