14.03.2013 popp@detail.de

Precious Jewellery Box: Kindergarten and Primary School in Saint-Denis

Situated on a former factory site in the north of Paris, the new Casarès-Doisneau educational complex comprises a primary school and a day-care centre for 600 children from the neighbouring communities of Saint-Denis and Aubervilliers. Inhabited by many immigrants from Spain and the Maghrib, the district is undergoing a process of radical change. The architects wished to stress the social significance of the structure through a striking, carefully designed facade that would recall oriental-Arabian mashrabiyas. Architekten: AAVP, Paris
Standort: 3 rue Cristino Garcia, F–93000 Saint-Denis
A lot of the small workshops and suburban houses that formerly existed here now stand unoccupied and are giving way to new municipal housing developments. In contrast to this somewhat neglected district, the school, with its golden outer face of perforated sheet aluminium and a cladding of larch strips and turned wooden members, resembles a precious jewellery box. In addition, the allegorical ornamentation is reminiscent of the architectural heritage of the industrial halls of the 19th century.
With its four sections, the development covers an entire street block. Instead of being enclosed within an outer fence, it is protectively faced with ornamental panels. On the northern side is the U-shaped main building, the spacious foyer of which separates the day nursery from the primary school. The varied coloration of the corridors serves as a means of orientation for the children. A large number of the 27 group rooms and classrooms open via glass doors on to the peripheral pergola-like structure, from where the children have access via timber staircases to the two-part playground. Additional covered play areas exist at the base beneath the sections that are raised on stilts.
It did not prove possible to implement the original idea of converting the former factory hall on the southern part of the site. In its place, a new school refectory was erected with a sports hall above that is also used by local clubs. The adjoining access tower with changing facilities serves this section, too. As one reminder of the previous function, the old industrial brick chimney stack has been retained and restored, however.
A detailed documentation of the project in print can be found in DETAIL 3/2013 on Building for Children.

Municipality of Saint-Denis and Aubervilliers
Completion: November 2011
Gross construction costs: 14 Mio. €
Gross floor area: 7070 m2  
Courtyard area: 1340 m2 
No. of children: 273 Kindergarten + 300 Primary School
Ages: 3 to 10 years
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