‘André Malraux’ group of schools in Montpellier, by Dominique Coulon & associés

The school unit is part of Montpellier’s dynamic for development, the aim being to connect the city with the sea. The school is set on a small triangular plot of land, in keeping with the urban policy for densifying a new residential area. 

The ground floor is taken up by the nursery school and the centre for before – and after – school activities. The primary school occupies the other two floors, with its playground on top of the nursery school. The volumes are designed as autonomous elements which appear to slide over each other, with their cantilevering providing covering for sections of the playground. Each volume is in a different colour or material. The bays have been designed according to their orientation and the level of light required. 

Transit routes receive natural lighting from the patios and tall openings. The first-floor classrooms can be accessed directly from the playground, without having to pass through the rest of the building. The classrooms are open at either end, and hence face both north and south. This produces ideal lighting conditions, as well as natural cooling by the passage of air through the classrooms from one end to the other. 

Like its different plans, the school offers a great variety of situations. The places are very varied and gain in value because of their contrast. In the greater landscape, the school affirms its singularity – in terms of the materials used, and in terms of composition. By distinguishing itself as an independent element, the school group claims its identity as a public facility.

By Dominique Coulon & associés

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