School Center and Leisure Activity Center in Antony

Antony, France
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Photo © David Boureau
Drawing © DFA
Drawing © DFA
Drawing © DFA
Drawing © DFA
Architects
Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes
Address
Avenue Lavoisier / Rue Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, 92161 Antony, France
Year
2020
Client
Ville d'Antony

School buildings shape the development of children and young people who spend most of the day there. They are also prestige projects for French municipalities. Therefore, its architectural quality is even more significant. The new elementary school with kindergarten by Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes in Antony is the result of a competition won and an enormous improvement compared to the old school it replaces.

Antony is part of the Métropole du Grand Paris, the RER C train takes 20 minutes to the center of Paris. The school is close to the station, a secondary school and a high school, on a curve in Rue Pierre Gilles de Gennes.

In order to fit in with the urban structure, to obtain as much space as possible for the courtyards and optimal sunlight for the classes, the building follows the limits of the site. Natural daylight, open, bright rooms, a large amount of freedom of movement and direct access to the outdoors were essential planning criteria. The incidence of sunlight was simulated over the whole year, the wings are staggered in height: three floors in the northeast, two in the northwest and one on the winding road from southwest to southeast. The sun shines into the school yard and the classrooms, energy consumption remains low. The school consists of four wings that surround a large, trapezoidal courtyard. A courtyard with trees and a large terrace for the classes on the first floor forms the airy, sunny, child- and exercise-friendly center of this school.

Optimized usage of the site
The multi-purpose hall on the ground floor is situated on the curve of the road in the southeast. It is suitable as a space for play, sports and exercise for children, but also for events. It forms the link between the large canteen on the street side and the entrance in the west wing of the school. This entire sequence on the street is combined with a polygonal, partly translucent facade made of glass and expanded metal. This gives the children a presence in the urban space, enables natural light and ventilation and signals openness.

Surrounded by a wide, red-colored pavement, the hall rises towards the curve up to a room height of four meters. It follows the curve of the site and creates a very bright, spacious, multifunctional room. Its slightly rising roof is used as an outdoor court on the first floor. The roof slope leads to flat wooden steps, a barely visible stainless-steel net serves as a ball net and fall protection. Plants along the outer limit provide a green filter towards the surrounding.

Welcoming
In the southwest, the geometry of the roof forms a canopy that protects the entrance. Here the children can wait before and after school. A second multipurpose room is slightly advanced - it emphasizes the entrance and can also be used externally. The public space on the street is followed by the corridor that opens towards all classes. It serves as a buffer, transit zone, lounge and break area. This corridor widens up behind the entrance to the foyer, where a wide staircase leads to the first and second floors. It naturally separates the older children from the little ones who walk straight into their groups.

Classes as living spaces
The classrooms of two and a half to six-year old children are situated on the ground floor. With floor-to-ceiling glass facades that can be opened largely with sliding doors, they are all oriented towards the spacious playground, which is designed as a friendly art landscape with gentle hills made of sports surfaces, trees and play areas. The children can go outside directly.

The classes on the upper floor follow the same principle: They are oriented towards spacious terraces. The rounded edges form the inner courtyard. Part of the terraces are made of wood. A sheltered space forms a framed view to the neighborhood. There children can play outside even in rainy weather. One can play or talk together in any weather until class begins.

Air quality plays a major role in children's well-being and ability to concentrate. A floor-to-ceiling wooden panel interrupts the glass facade between the classes. Behind it is a heater that preheats the air and blows it in through the class-side fins when it is too cold. If the CO2 content in the room air increases, fresh air is supplied. This wooden element gives the glass facade a rhythm and contributes to the warm atmosphere of the courtyard. All partition walls and load-bearing supports are made of exposed concrete, the walls to the aisle as multifunctional wooden furniture: On the class side, they serve as shelves, boxes and wash basins, and on the aisle side as cloakrooms. In the entrance area there is strip parquet on the floor. The canteen is a deep, open space on the street that is naturally lit by the facade there and an all-round glazed inner patio.

The school is robust, open and bright. For Dietmar Feichtinger, architecture is the stage for everyday life. This school is oriented towards outdoor spaces - and it leaves enough space for appropriation and development.

Quote from Dietmar Feichtinger:
“Schools are very important places in the development of children. Architecture is the background. We want to create areas of life for students and teachers with a robust materiality and lots of natural light which develop with the people who use them.”

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