Renovation project of the former architecture school in Nanterre

Nanterre, France/ ナンテール, フランス

The competition consist in refurbishing the former architectural school in Nanterre. Designed by J. Kalisz, this building is emblematic of 1960s architecture. The metal steel structure of the existing building is largely preserved to reveal the intelligence of the ‘proliferating’ former construction. A large roof supported by a wood structure covers and unifies the whole, promoting outdoor use while protecting the below steel structural grid. Two rectangular buildings of six levels are slipped into the structure. They face each other and follow the original orthogonal grid. These wooden boxes host the buildings programme, creating thermally comfortable spaces. These boxes are served by a peripheral passageway, protected from the elements by a glass façade. The transparency of the façade allowing the materiality of the wood and metal to be read, while revealing the activity of the schools. The building to the South providing a programming school and a neighbourhood association space. The building to the North, hosting co-working spaces and an art school. The link between the street and the park is the heart of the program. The interior street is protected by the above membrane, with the existing steel structure visible throughout. Beyond the rectangular buildings, the preserved structure becomes a support for terraces, meeting rooms, alternative vertical circulation and service areas. The space between the top of the steel structure and the new roof is large and open. Bathed in light it develops into mezzanines and welcome workshop spaces. The interlocking of the wooden boxes within the Kalisz structure offers flexibility of space and guarantees the reversibility of the building in the future, it will be able to continue its ‘proliferation’, its evolution towards other uses and other times. Programme could easily evolve towards tertiary, commercial or residential uses. The modularity and efficiency of the original architecture is developed upon and updated. This allows adaption to new uses, a greater openness to the site, in this way redefining its identity.

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