The urban regeneration zone of Clichy- Batignolles covers over 133 acres of land (54 hectares). Located in the 17th Parisian precinct, it is one of the most ambitious urban projects currently led by the city.
The site bears the historical signs of transportation and logistics activities, facilitated by the train lines leading to Saint-Hence creating the possibility to include this isolated railway site into a very much needed urban continuity.
The area is constructed around the Martin Luther King parc, crossing its whole length and leading to the symbolic Paris Courthouse, overlooking the northern part of the site.
In this urban operation, the 6A parcel plays an essential role, located between the urbanized road Mstislav Rostropovitch to the West and the parc to the East. The question of porosities and views created between the Lazare train station and the close beltway.
Therefore, the stakes of the project can be summarized by the single idea of designing a dense built environment for this neighbourhood.
playtime! two spaces is vital to the project definition.
The final volumetric design is the direct result of the rational understanding of the programmatical and site’s constraints.
The main goal for the project is to obtain as much space and sun as possible for the outdoor playgrounds of the school and day- care centre.
The choice has hence been made to densify the housing areas and to exploit the legal possibilities of the site: grouping apartments into two buildings going up to 50meters high. These two towers are on the North to South diagonal of the site, allowing a maximum amount of sun for both playgrounds. At noon, the shadow from the tower will only cover the roof of the kindergarten.
Consequently, the second tower, hosting social housing, is comprised in a 7 floors volume. This building faces the parc and restricts the impact of the project onto parcel 06B, in terms of views and shadows.
This design allows the project to create multiple views through the site. Hence participating in the alternation of 28 and 50-meter-high volumes in the neighbourhood, between parc and street.
The resulting volumes are inserted into the rhythm of existing constructions around. The highest tower alternates the one from the parcel 04, facing it. Modelling the volumes this way also allows crossing views from the street to the parc.
One can see both the parc and the foliage of the courtyard’s trees from the street, through the gap in the school building. The parc seems to be a vegetal background for this scenery created from the opening.
Moreover, the project chooses to be as opened as possible on the parc. The space in between the towers manages to create views from the street to the parc.
The issue of materials is essential to architecture, but too often only applied to facades and ornaments.
This project aims to put into perspective the antagonism of many buildings: it brings into conflict on one hand structural or technical materials and on the other hand the materials being used to hide them, creating an ornamenting layer.
This decorative surface is often too shallow since composed with a short life span. After that, one must consider replacing them with new ones. The project tried to break free from this fashion dependable ornaments.
The idea is to underline the raw quality of the material and reveal the structure of the building. The choice has been made for noble structural materials, avoiding the need for a decorative layer.
From the savings obtained by removing inside decoration, the structure can appear in the most noble way as possible.
The beauty of materials is naturally enhanced, and their function can easily be recognized. The technical components are left visible in order to show how the building is made. For example, the choice to showcase raw concrete walls is a way to draw attention to their structural impact for the building.
The main concept at work here is to aim for truth in construction. Showcasing the simplicity and transparency of the structure and technical elements of the building.
The same idea is at work when it comes to the wooden structure of the kindergarten and the school. This structure can be perceived both from inside and outside the building. On the outside, the spirit of the wooden structure is translated into wooden cladding and frameworks of the same wood essence, French larch. These materials represent a structural necessity for the building as much as its initial look. The architect can regain control over the image of his production since it becomes virtually impossible to change the aspect of the construction without damaging its structural parts.
The process of creating a materiality that is as accurate as it is essential for the construction appears to be the first environmental approach to architecture.
The design allows the building to exist through time without having to suffer from recurring aesthetical changes. It’s about creating an architecture made to have a longer life span without producing useless waste through its existence.
Both the school and the kindergarten were conceived with a common goal for the team: create as much use value as possible for spaces that could have been overlooked as secondary.
A corridor can become an extra room, the antechamber of a classroom during small group activities for example. We aim to offer as much use as we can for one space, so that every room can enjoy multiple functions.
These potentials contained in each space are supporting the idea that they can host various activities and moments.
The school could also become the place for other activities once the classes are done, the space should be welcoming and opened for new ways of appropriation.
The presence of a stage, framing a peculiar view on Montmartre is hereby increasing the value of its hosting room. It’s more than just a circulation hall now, it’s a useful and flexible space where one would like to stop for a while.
Our architecture aims to be adaptative and flexible on the long term. The choice to showcase a structure made of columns and beams with light walls is proof of that will.
The building can be redefined in the future to host new indoor functions without changing its global architecture. Therefore, we can design a place that respects both the architect’s intention but also and more importantly the one of its future users.