An internal fortress
This project is located on the outskirts of the town of Champagnole, at the heart of the foothills of the Jura. It was built on a former football ground, in a heterogeneous peri-urban setting composed of villas, small apartment blocks and commercial premises.
This context places the infrastructure in a relatively solitary location with very few, low-intensity connections with the immediate surroundings. The new school will therefore need to write its own history and invent a new landscape.
At the same time, the atmosphere needs to be suited to young children, a welcoming, benevolent environment constructed on a domestic scale, as opposed to the large-scale sports facility on which it is built.
In order to meet these requirements, we turned to the form of a building around a courtyard, placing this outside space inside a protective, built enclosure.
Wood framework, zinc casing
Paradoxically, this is not a defensive posture but actually an open attitude. Built on a single level, the building is composed of extremely low volumes in the form of an impluvium, which means the height of the roof can be lowered to 2.5 metres around the courtyard. These reduced dimensions free up views of the summits of the surrounding hills. The school appears to be immersed in the vast natural landscape, thus escaping its more immediate surroundings.
The form produced is extremely simple. The building with the courtyard clearly states its vocation as a public infrastructure within the neighbourhood and creates a warm, protective interior landscape for the children. The choice of materials accentuates this contrast: the metallic skin covering the facade and roof leaves the wooden framework visible in the courtyard and inside the building.
The project is drawn using simple, taut geometry. A rectangular internal courtyard forms the centre of the school. A gallery wraps all the way around, providing access to all the rooms in the building. An offset ellipsis is cut into the roof over the courtyard, creating a disc of light which moves over the course of the day. The roof overhangs protect the wooden facades and provide the children with shelter in bad weather.
Three strata, on different planes, make up the external facades.
A raw concrete foundation connects the building with the ground and guarantees the durability of the base of the facade. The zinc envelope is characterised by an additional thickness at 2.4 metres height which integrates the mobile sunshades. The grey patina standing seam cladding is subtly enhanced with anodized and light aluminium frames. In the upper section, three openings provide light to the toilet facilities and the library to the north.
This homogeneous, durable envelope associated with the simplicity of the volume of the project create a presence that is both heavy and delicate with its metallic skin radiating golden reflections in the sunlight.
Inside the building the polished concrete floors, the wooden framing, the acoustic ceiling and made-tomeasure furniture (classroom furniture, benches and cloakrooms) come together to create a calm, tranquil environment. The decor uses neutral tones to create peaceful surroundings that are also userfriendly. The materials used are left unfinished, revealing the construction methods used through their visual appearance.
The classrooms are all identical but with different aspects. They all open up onto the outside via the huge panoramic windows (720 cm x 180 cm). They frame the rather banal surrounding landscape, creating snapshots which are ultimately much more varied. In the courtyard the horizontal lines of the roof emphasise the surrounding summits of the Jura foothills.
The alternation of full and empty spaces characterizes the accesses and means there is constant contact between the rooms and the internal courtyard. These galleries broaden out to house the cloakrooms integrated into the alcove spaces. Particular attention has been paid to the acoustics in these frequently-used spaces with the use of a slatted wooden ceiling. In the activity rooms, mineralised wooden fibre ceiling tiles are used between the rafters to improve user comfort.
Short distribution channels and local know-how
The choice of materials and construction methods favours the use of short distribution channels and regional know-how. The wooden framing was designed to use lots of small components that could be produced using local timber. The framing is therefore entirely made of wood from the Jura, including the glulam rafters in the covered section of the courtyard.
The flooring is made of polished concreted composed of locally-sourced aggregates (limestone pea gravel).
The concrete bases (stringers and benches) were pre-fabricated to guarantee a flawless appearance.
The zinc used for the external cladding and roofing is reminiscent of the gables of buildings in the Jura mountains. The precision shaping and positioning involved in producing this cladding requires specific expertise and skilled labour.
To the south two corners of the building remain on standby, marked by the zinc giving way to grey weathered wood cladding. These spaces have been deliberately left empty following the closing down of two classes during the study phase of the project. The volume has been deliberately removed rather than downsized in order to leave the option open for a future extension which would make the block whole again.
Intercommunal school group in Champagnole (39)
Contracting authority: Communauté de communes Champagnole Nozeroi Jura
Surface : 1400 m2
Cost of works: 2.45 M€.
Architects: Tectoniques Architects
OPC: Tectoniques Architects
BET Fluids: Tectoniques Engineers
BET Structures : Perrin & associés
Control office: Socotec
SPS : Socotec
Date of construction 2018
Photographers: Jérôme Ricolleau and William Henrion (royalty free photos)
Constructive systems and materials
BM and BLC framework / MOB panels / Wood type(s): Jura spruce (AOC Bois Jura)
y included for LLCs made by Simonin
Front frames Shuco and BSO Griesser aluminium
Interior joinery in beech wood
Concrete floors (sanded and polished slab)
Mineral wool and wood fibre insulation
Acoustic tiles Knauff organic
Zinc Siding and Roofing
Double-flow ventilation and gas heating
Samode Lighting Fixtures
Favier Setrem finned radiators
VRD / Green spaces : Arnaud Rusthul TP
Timber structures / Siding : Laurent Pontarlier
Roofing / Zinc / Siding: SN Puget
Exterior joinery Alu / Locksmithing: Bavoysi
Exterior wood joinery : Laurent Pontarlier
Interior joinery in wood / Shop fitting : SAS Malenfer
Flatware / Painting / Lining / False ceilings : SAS Reverchon
CVC Plumbing: CSTI
Electricity / Strong and weak currents: SARL Cluster
Flexible floors / FaÏences : SAS Perrin Mazier