ClientIle de France Region, Operational division: Essonne aménagement
Text description provided by the architects. Set on the Etampes plateau with a view as far as the eye can see across the natural landscape and farmland, the new Lycée d’Etampes secondary school is the first building in the built-up Paris area visible from the Beauce plain.
The building stands on the boundary between the two regions and itself has that dual status as a kind of built-up landscape, despite its large scale. The way this landscape-building’s is sited on the land and blends in with it is behind the implementation of a number of environmental, architectural and engineering strategies.
Stringent environmental requirements impose a building with optimised positioning and shape. In its central position in the middle of the land, the building stands well back, thereby relating better with the existing housing estates and broad clear views across the valley. This position negotiates and optimises the school’s embedding in a natural dip in the land, affording access on two levels. This semi-underground level increases the building’s inertia and leaves the North front with one floor less than the South-facing front. Filling the entire width of the plot means that all the new building frontage faces North/South.
The new school’s great compactness is a key feature of our project. This highly compact building is set around interior patios providing ventilation and natural daylight to all areas. This efficient and functional shape meets the optimum configuration of the spaces and their respective areas, which translates in concrete terms in a gross saving of 823 m2 in compliance with the programme and usable areas. It avoids the unnecessary setbacks of the old comb or step designs, with a preference on the frontage for fluid continuous broken lines, giving the school an unusually mobile profile.
The stacking of all the programmes into an efficient, compact shape leads to a rational concentration of traffic flows from a single vertical core bringing together all indoor and outdoor levels at the heart of the school. On the South side, from the main entrance to the school, the playground leads to the hall and living areas. On the North side, the outside sports and service areas directly but distinctly extend or feed the workshops and gym rooms.
The second floor houses all teaching units in rooms that are ventilated naturally. These areas have an outside air preheating system strengthened by a running apron wall which is clad on the outside with solar panels and ventilation chimneys whose tall silhouettes liven up the landscape of the green roofs. At every level, precise work on the design of the breaks in the patio fronts eases the traffic in areas where many pupils come together at the same times.
On the outside, the broken lines of the chameleon frontage produce shimmering effects adopting the colours and atmospheres of the surrounding built-up and natural landscape.