Children's Playhouse in Bonneuil-sur-Marne

This new playhouse is set within a social-housing estate consisting of high-rise structures in a suburb southeast of Paris. The residents of the estate expressed the desire to have an amenity that could be used by the public and would function as a point of attraction for this area: the programme called for turning an inconspicuous two-storey building dating to the 1960s into a place for children to meet and play. The small budget and the antithetical requirement that the building be open and introverted at the same time posed a challenge, so the architects came up with an unconventional response: a new skin completely cloaks the existing building and endows its exterior – which, with its few openings, makes a monumental impression – with the strong presence that such a public building requires. And at the same time a welcoming, cosy space for children has come about. The sculptural skin – a self-supporting, in some instances folded, concrete structure – create a variety of spaces. A generously dimensioned, lofty entrance area inhabits the interstitial space; skylights direct light into it. The upper storey’s outdoor area accommodates a courtyard play area for the children. Texture matrices were inserted in the formwork to achieve the exposed concrete’s surface texture,which is reminiscent of timber boarding. Pigments dispersed in the concrete create a greenish shimmering surface.
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