Le Kremlin-Bicêtre > Darius Milhaud sec. school

Le Kremlin-Bicêtre > Darius Milhaud sec. school

This secondary school, built in 1976, was in an advanced state of dilapidation, suffering major accessibility and visibility problems, along with a number of deficiencies in terms of internal organisation and layout. Nor did it respect modern health and safety norms. The site on which it stands slopes gently from northeast to southwest and enjoys ample woodland areas. As a high school campus it therefore presented a number of attractive features. However, the different buildings scattered about the site lacked a sense of order - a new hierarchy between them needed to be established. Greater legibility of their individual functions was also to serve as a means of integrating general education and vocational training within the site. The King Kong design sets forward a series of propositions aimed at restructuring the site as a whole, with a hand at once firm and sensitive. A central axis running through the site from north to south was defined to create a sense of structure, providing clear and simple access to the school’s different departments and services. Landscaped galleries originally ran transversally through the site, providing a means of moving through and around the school. In the new design, they are no longer treated as a succession of closed volumes, but as an intelligent whole. As a means of clarifying the school’s organisation and of bringing students in general education and vocational training together, the functions of each building were divided into superimposed layers. The corridors and hallways were also redesigned with this principle in mind. In their original state, each building had two encased stairways, deprived of natural light. The new design repositions these staircases outside, as an integral part of the transversal galleries, and lifts have been added. This not only serves to brace the building, but also frees up each central section where glazed patios have been inserted, connecting with the corridors which are now light, airy and well protected. Each volume was also to receive insulation from without, but rather than wrapping the buildings in cladding, thereby effacing the original modernist architecture, this design grafts new ornamental features onto the prefabricated 1976 façade, based on a square motif inspired by the initial design and composed of modules which repeat the original pattern in inverse form. These modules are heightened both with silkscreen prints which lie flush with the exterior wall and reflective double-glazing, in an alternating pattern enlivening the façades and providing an effective means of controlling the amount of sunlight entering the building. This structural principle respects the school’s architectural heritage, a legacy it would surely be sad to totally efface. The design also included an extension, with an ample courtyard opening onto Rue Bergonié. The conference and concert hall is provided with an independent entrance and excellent acoustics. The extension was to be clad in ceramics, not only offering excellent insulation but also reviving the square motif, at times cut away to function as a latticed sunshade. An area of meshing projects out over the front of the building, creating a façade at once strongly voiced, welcoming and permeable. The new building’s character is assertive, to say the least, but is softened through a range of formal and functional strategies, such as the use of stilts framing inviting vistas over the surrounding landscape.
program
restructuration and extension of a secondary school
project management
atelier King Kong, Khephren Ingénierie, Alto Ingénierie, VPEAS
client: Regional Council of Île de France
location: Le Kremlin-Bicêtre (94)
surface area: 15 500 m²
Cost (VAT included): 25 100 000 €
date: competition 2013
images/photos: 2:pm / Freddy Charrier
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