All of us have studied at various times in faculties of architecture but none of us could be classically defined as an architect. We are interested and work in design and communications, landscape planning and agriculture, light infrastructure for bicycles and small businesses for the new economy.
The Giraffe childcare center is located in the C1 block of the Seguin Rives de Seine district in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburban area of Paris. The program houses a 60 bed childcare center and 20 bed day nursery. The building has been awarded the green “zéro Energie Effinergie” label.
This public building is located next to Jean Nouvel’s “Horizons” tower, at the junction between the “Vieux pont de Sèvres” neighbourhood, built in the 70’s, and the new area called “ le Trapèze”. The High density of this area gives it a rugged skyline. To be integrated into this particular urban landscape, the building is composed of three tiers. Each of the south-facing playgrounds is in continuity with the interior spaces and is identified by a unique concrete animal sculpture. Viewed from the surrounding towers, the regular sequence of terraces offers a real « fifth facade » to the neighbourhood.
The facades of the building are made out of white corrugated iron that provides a minimal background to the wild animal sculptures. The idea is to animate the urban landscape by using a child’s imagination. The wild animals appropriate the space; a giraffe appears to be peacefully eating the leaves of the trees from the neighbouring park, a polar bear tries to clamber up the steps, while a family of ladybirds climbs the façade in an attempt to reach the interior patio.
Architecture turns into storytelling. The building changes its identity and becomes a landscape in its own right, a metaphor for the urban jungle. The animals and the trees link the building to nature and motion. The giraffe has become a banner for the nursery since it is visible in the surrounding area from all angles. We walk through its legs to enter the building. Through their affable form, the lively animal sculptures invite us to live our dreams. These playful and dreamlike sculptures introduce a little bit of fantasy into the routine life of the town in order to inspire our lives with a bit of poetry.
The complex triangular plot is located within a heterogeneous built fabric: the park to the West, old town houses to the North and several new 5 storey buildings to the South. The depth of the site provides the building with three different orientations. The workshops and games rooms are therefore turned towards the garden, most of the spaces benefiting from an unobstructed view out onto greenery. The entrance space, with its forecourt set back from the street, acts as an urban connection with the rue Arago. The building slots into this complex site, preserving, as much as possible, a certain continuity with the existing urban fabric as well as with the layout of the Victor Hugo Garden.
The children’s centre stands out as a public facility. The scheme demonstrates cultural, educational and civic intentions with a strong social integration objective. The centre is a place for educational leisure, where children and adolescents are able to develop their own individuality through collective games and workshops. The building’s functional organisation evolves around the central hall, focal point of the centre, entirely open to the public. Firstly, the scheme rests on a plinth consisting of horizontal lines echoing the configuration of the park. This base supports a number of timber boxes, which appear to be light structures with varied panelling, set out in a fragmented way. The interior layout of the ground floor favours open spaces with maximum transparency, adapted to natural lighting requirements, as well as acoustic conditions. The rigorous organisation of the different entities allows for a great legibility of the various uses, while facilitating the children and visitor’s orientation throughout the building. This is also achieved with the use of a colorimetric language and appropriate signage.
Per creare un ambiente il più adatto possibile ai piccoli ospiti della nursery, gli architetti Michel Grasso e Paul le Quernec si sono lasciati ispirare dalle forme della cellula e del grembo materno. Il risultato è uno spazio avvolgente, che pone l’asilo al centro del layout come fosse il nucleo della cellula, circondato dai giardini (citoplasma) e da un muro che lo racchiude come una membrana. L’ingresso è caratterizzato da una volta di cemento che è la continuazione del muro periferico. Tutte le unità si irradiano dalla zona centrale evitando la necessità di corridoi. Un concept organico e uterino, che offre sicurezza e comfort ai bambini e ai genitori. Le altezze cambiano continuamente, dai 2,10 m ai 4,20 creando un morbido gioco di volumi. www.michelgrasso.fr
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