The following text and images are courtesy of José Morales.
ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPE
The building is accessed from an upper platform which leads to common facilities rooms and to the main entrance hall itself sheltered by an overhang that supports the Document and Information Centre. It is the only part that juts out of the homogeneous body of the building making the entrance clearly stand out. The existing Goscinny house has been reclaimed and features administrative offices on the ground floor and teachers’offices on the first floor. The dry stone-wall foundations make the house part of the land in its own right and, moreover, enable from a scale perspective the transition from the villages of the valley to the new building.
Since the activity center operates independently from the rest of the building it has been tucked under the main entrance where it can run on its own. The rest of the building is comprised of three levels which feature a shifting overlap pattern to closely follow the land grade, thereby providing a very clear and efficient distribution of spaces for discrete activities. Teaching classrooms spread over two floors in one building and give onto a covered hall that runs around a planted patio. Anchored right into the ground, the cafeteria sits to the east side sheltering the student recess courtyard from eastern winds.
Built out of cyclopean concrete, the lower parts of the building feature openings of different styles - traditional or creative - which alternate in sizes and shapes. The upper floor, dedicated to general secondary education classes, is wrapped in a wood facade which unifies the volumes while describing large gauche-looking surfaces. Sun protection systems have been set up on the facades to allow to modulate the natural light, to provide venting, to blackout or close spaces, all within an optical art style. As a result, the building seems to be moving continuously more or less in sync with the movement of the blinds. New outlines have been drawn and set against the rugged hills of the landscape. Our project has created a dialog between the existing buildings and the surrounding landscape. It has also capitalized on the best exposure and the best views to offer students the best functional set up where they can feel protected, in harmony with the location and in tune with the region where they live.
FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
Designed from the very beginning to be cost effective as regards to energy needs, the project totally qualifies to be HQE certified. It is the first school built partly in wood in the PACA region. The wood part of the structure rests on a wood floor which itself is set on wooden subflooring. The lumber used comes from neighboring forests sustainably managed and the insulating material used is wood fiber. In so choosing, we were able to reduce the energy consumption regarding the construction materials life cycle, something we could not have done with traditional cement structures and rock wool insulation. The wood construction acts as a carbon sink; particularly so when the wood is produced locally as the energy cost for delivering the supplies to the site is much lower. Seventy per cent of the energy needs are provided by the pellet wood furnace, with a capacity of 200 kW, the rest by a gas furnace with a capacity of 350 kW. The gas furnace is sized however to be able to supply all of the energy needs and therefore be used as a full backup if necessary for any reason. Semi-transparent solar panels are installed over the outside corridors covering a total surface of 540 m2. Such installation is completed over the class room building by the laying of amorphous waterproof roofing panels.