Fernand and Nadia Léger High School / toa | architectes associés

Fernand and Nadia Léger High School / toa | architectes associés

Fernand and Nadia Léger High School / toa | architectes associés - Image 2 of 18

Text description provided by the architects. Located near public facilities, the neighborhood center, the “Val d’Argenteuil” train station, and in a wooded environment, the Fernand and Nadia Léger High School benefits from an urban dynamic driven by a changing neighborhood. This operation is therefore part of a complete reorientation of the equipment and made it possible to initiate the creation of a unifying center linked to the city through the affirmation of its urban facade and in dialogue with the interior of the plot.

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Due to the constraints of phasing and continuity of use of the operation (avoid the use of temporary buildings), the project is marked by an installation at the end of the plot, at the interface between the high school and public space. These constraints led us to propose an urban object prowed onto the street, of which the scale is comparable to the surrounding buildings while working on a different recognition of scales through work on a decomposition into two distinct volumes and complementary. On a city scale, the upper volume of the building (R+3) is located on a north-south axis in order to frame the perspectives of the courtyard. Compact and functional building, “machine to teach”, its structure limited to the facades and the cores of vertical circulations, allows great adaptability to future educational requirements and affirms the vocation of a tertiary high school. It is draped in a perforated metal mesh whose perception is changing with natural light. It is both sun protection and thermic envelope, framing views of the landscape, and protecting from views and external intrusions.  To facilitate upkeep and maintenance from the inside, all glazing is opening. On a street scale, this high volume rests on a base whose free form recreates a new soft topography that dialogues with the rigor of the block of floors.

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Clad in a satin white brick echoing the minerality of the district’s facades, it seeks alignment on the street and is attentive to passers-by through its generous openings. The roofs of the ground floor, visible from the upper floors and the neighboring dwellings are covered with high-quality, large-format metal elements such as Kal Zip. This treatment makes it possible to integrate the technical premises of the APR pole, as well as the sheds lighting the pole’s aesthetic hairstyle. The roof of the tall building allows rainwater to be retained (reservoir roof). His high parapets make the solar panels invisible from the ground allowing this stage of studies to achieve consumption objectives. The technical ventilation rooms are directly integrated into the last level of the building to avoid any entrances and allow easier maintenance. As an extension of the current courtyard surrounded by passageways, a new esplanade is created. It ultimately links the main functions of the school and social life of the high school, the library, hall, dressing room and multipurpose room for the future building, as well as the new main entrance. The inflection of rue Léger will ultimately offer a large square and naturally protected from car traffic.

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The deconstruction of the workshops and the compactness of the project have made it possible to give back to the courtyard an additional space of almost 2000 m². In connection with the alignment of trees on surrounding streets, and retaining as many of the existing beautiful subjects as possible, the high school will be integrated into the green fabric of the neighborhood with its varied plantings. The new forecourt, whose paving joints will allow rainwater to infiltrate is supplemented by shallow landscape valleys, allowing infiltration and Phyto treatment of runoff water from the temporary parking lot using species adapted such as reed, Japanese horsetail, water lily and water iris. The temporary parking lot is planted with street trees in order to be easily converted into a tree-lined path after its planned repositioning at the location of building C. Finally, the space left free for the building is treated as a meadow, shaded to the south by the alignment trees located on Boulevard de la Resistance. This device allows for the minimization of development and rework costs during future work. The school building reframes the courtyard on the south side and opens up views towards the park located west of the high school. The exterior spaces thus reclassified are delimited by a simplified outline allowing an overview, while offering varied atmospheres to students.

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