Architects: Laurens & Loustau Architects
Location: 114, avenue François Mitterand, St-Gaudens (31), France
Project Team: Marc Laurens, Pierre Loustau
Client: S.A Cogemip, Région Midi-Pyrénées
Engineer: Ingerop Sud-Ouest
Project Area: 5,200 sqm
Project Year: 1999-2004
Photographs: Damien Aspe
Restructuration of the boarding school
The building of the boarding school is made up of levels: the half-buried ground-floor harbours the service premises, the 1st and 2nd floors accomodate a wide hall and the classrooms. The last two floors are reserved to students’ rooms and staff accomodation.On the 3rd and 4th levels /floors, the former dormitories have been partitioned off and turned into 4 rooms containing 4 beds each.The problem caused by the 1.50 meter height, has been solved by heightening the level by 50 centimeters above the floor on a small width , thus creating a raised working area under the openings.The restructuration of the boarding school required the opening of easy access entrances for fire-fighting purposes, facing the front, on all the bedroom floors; The setting off of all those entrances by some identifiable graphic (art) work punctuates and livens up the facade. The strong incentive not to conceal the elements due to current constraints ( such as security, accessibility..) puts the empathis on new emerging architectural typologies fully complying shape to function. On the first floor ,which is a sort of raised ground-floor, a reception hall has been built. On its North front entrance, this cross hall displays overhanging prefabricated concrete volumes, each one cast in one piece, serving as benches, recesses. The latter create the frames of a stage on which, through the presence of the students themselves , different plays can be performed.
Restructuration of the day-school
The building of the day-school is divided into 4 levels made up of schoolrooms facing North and South, separated by a central 77-meter long corridor, getting light only from openings at both extremities.. On floors/levels 1,2 and 3, on the South side, 2 load-bearing structures have been removed in order to give room to a small lounge for students between classes, at the heart of each floor ,facing the main stairs ,offering light and unrestricted view on the surroundings. In this space, floors walls and inclined ceilings reinforce the perspective, modify the perception of space and create a stage on which the student is the main actor.The sweet-coloured halls and deep dark ceilings are designed as wings leading to a stage.These are utilities units in which the passage of shafts and technical equipment are visible. On the ground-floor, the great initially open cross hall has been closed off for the sake of comfort. In this space, thought was given to the possibility of defining a new spatial structure in an existing place.