Architects: Dominique Coulon, Olivier Nicollas
Assistance: Guillaume Wittmann, Emilie Brichard, Jean Scherer
Program: Grundschule 12 Klassenräume, Vorschule 9 Klassenräum, Sporthalle, Mensa
Budget: 16 300 000 € H.T
Photos: Eugeni Pons, Guillaume Wittmann, David Romero-Uzeda
A Colourful Universe: The Simone Veil Group School Complex
Builder: The city Colombes
Architects: dominique coulon & associés, Straßburg
Location: F–92700 Colombes, 3 rue Marguerite Yourcenar
The school complex stands in Colombes, a suburb located ten kilometres northwest of the centre of Paris. It fits perfectly into the available lot and the urban situation. It takes up structural features such as the adjacent tram stop in order to create playful interactions with the exterior space. In contrast, the introverted courtyard creates a new interior described as a “universe” by the architects. Thanks to the small plot – relative to the size of the building – the primary school, playgrounds and gardens have been rather unconventionally accommodated on the roof. In this secluded area, which has no view over the neighbouring buildings, the children are not only sheltered, but among themselves. Functional units such as the gym, cafeteria, library and other pupil-oriented spaces are located primarily on the more public ground floor.
Crannies, recesses, colours and materials play with the light and the overall appearance of the building. This serves both to hide and pep up the depth of the structure. Patios create a variety of spatial situations, link and change the school, finding different ways to allow natural light inside right down to the lower levels. The transparency of the ground-floor façade lets even more light in, giving a feel of openness all the way to the access zones. While these areas have used natural materials that will be familiar to the older children, the younger pupils will be attracted to the bright shades of red. The concept is quite simple: concrete and wood for the big kids; colour for the little ones.
Rough, untreated and naturally shaped wooden slats bedeck the city-side façade, creating a contrast to the otherwise smooth, colourful walls. This interplay of naturality and vivid colours transforms the space into an unusual, creative place whose elements are attuned to nature. Repetition has been avoided as much as possible, which makes each space one of a kind. At the junctions of the access areas, there are always new places to meet and spend a bit of time. The architects have created a bit of order in the chaos, a playful disorder that nonetheless follows a system.