Architects: Clermont Architectes
Location: Versonnex, France
Engineers: Bem Ingénierie – Fluitec – SJA
Photographs: Daniel Osso
The site of the Maison de la Petite Enfance (early childhood center) is located in the commune of Versonnex (Pays de Gex). This region of the Lake Geneva, a few kilometers away from Geneva , is experiencing a profound mutation: what used to be a rural area is now turning into a zone of urbanized densification – which is not always well-managed.
The presence of numerous trees and great meadows is the vestige of the former agrarian structure of the Pays de Gex. The Maison de la Petite Enfance is now located on the border between residential urbanized areas and rural landscapes.
The Maison de la Petite Enfance is linear, horizontal, emphasizing the Jura mountains in the background. The building marks the border between urbanization and rural landscapes, and forms the beginning of a future public area with the nearby communal house.
The inclined tile roof, imposed by the urbanism regulation, was also crucial in the conception of the project. Reflection was conducted in order to avoid any neo-rural or backward-looking connotation.
Conceived as the very simple image of a shelter for young children, the building is characterized by its two parallel roofs. This simple general shape brings together a feeling of finesse and the compactness required for the building in order to achieve the desired thermal performances.
The plantation of local tree species (notably deciduous broad-leaved trees) allows the project to be a part of the wooded environment and plays an important role in dealing with the solar gain.
Indoors, the repetition of a single-framed farm’s structure (every 1,80m) marks the different spaces. In the main areas, the framing reaches its full height. This repetition of the structure has enabled the adjustments of precise assembly details participating in the architectural definition of interior decoration.
This building was awarded a prize in the PREBAT challenge (prototype building with low energy consumption) organized by the ADEME (a French agency for the environment preservation)