Children’s toy Library / LAN Architecture

Architects: LAN Architecture
Location: Bonneuil sur Marne, France
Client: Bonneuil sur Marne local authority
Team: Cabinet MTC (all-trades engineers)
Budget: US $1,120,000
Constructed Area: 380 sqm
Project year: 2008
Photographs: Jean-Marie Monthiers

The Bonneuil-sur-Marne children’s toy library is a public building as well as a play space for children. The project creates an opposition between monumentality and the need for a warm, friendly environment within the same building.

context model

It is located in an area where 1960s social housing has had a strong physical and social impact. The exterior and interior spaces are designed to respect the dual nature of the building. The monolithic shell-like elevations are closely linked to the surrounding urban context. We wanted to create a strong urban symbol able to stand out from its environment, whose shell would protect its core and participate in the regeneration of Bonneuil-sur-Marne’s social structures.

The architectural approach: towards a shell-like solution

The design of the Bonneuil-sur-Marne children’s toy library resulted from an approach that aimed to simultaneously resolve a number of problems and develop new ideas:

- New use for an existing building
- Design of a children’s play area
- Creation of a small-scale public facility in a socially unstable area occupied by large housing complexes
- The difficulties of a very restricted budget (initially, the programme simply called for a new interior layout)

We decided to design a building that had no sense of scale and which would appear timeless, a dense solid mass, an urban symbol standing out from its environment, a shell able to protect its contents.

The result is a volume that seems to have always existed and whose bunker-like appearance is reminiscent of a vernacular construction.

A new skin for an old body

Our strategy was inspired by a medical logic of intervention. The creation of an additional freestanding skin allowed us to control the interfaces between exterior spaces, building and interior spaces, as well as meet the need to provide generous volumes.

new skin diagram

The new elevations covering the existing building are adapted to the building’s changed use and provide for the incorporation of a new main entrance, an open courtyard on ground floor level and additional surface areas for administrative functions. This solution maintained the existing in-situ cast green-tinted shell.

The decision was taken to create a hermetic separation between the exterior and the open and colourful interior spaces. Children play in a sort of cocoon, rich in light variations, that rises up over the two levels; a simple, functional and comfortable scale and volume fully adapted to the needs of its users.

Cite: "Children’s toy Library / LAN Architecture" 28 Jan 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • Mark

    I hate children too.

  • JDR

    Very enjoyable piece of architecture,
    but a lack of open-ness (if that’s a word)…
    The project isn’t able to enjoy itself.

    Not that convincing after all..

  • utopian robot

    @ Mark–lol

    this is indeed another child-prison complex.

  • Contemporary Art

    I’m not sure I understand what this building is. It looks like a cafe and a playroom? I like the alternating colors of the chairs. But I don’t understand the building.

  • link building service

    this is indeed another child-prison complex.

  • Keomi

    Much too brutal for chidren. This is one piece of architecture where the landscape should hide the building! Get the kids out for an art class with spray cans, that should improve the external appearance.

  • tieu long

    i love children . ^^

  • HSXK

    I like it, good way to protect old building, economical,modern and formalized. And the material just make people feel calm!

  • Lucas Gray

    I like the design a lot although I agree it might not be the most ideal place for a children’s center. They could use some more windows and a better connection to the outdoors. However, that would probably ruing the simplicity of this particular design…

  • nausheen

    very rigid and massive design …colors are good

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