The German firm Behnisch Architekten has completed a school campus in the heart of a tree-shaded park in Buc, a town bordering Versailles.
This project is the realisation of a commitment to create a campus in harmony with its environment and reduced energy consumption.
A binational educational concept
Built in collaboration with Atelier 2A+, the goal was to modernise the site of an existing school dating from the 1980s, including a Franco-German bilingual secondary school, a primary school, a lower secondary school and gymnasium, and to link them together with outdoor enhancements to strengthen the identity of the campus. This approach has resulted in the creation of an attractive place of learning for approximately 1,000 students, standing in a park amidst magnificent trees, with far more to offer than a mere educational establishment in the traditional understanding of the term.
The original school campus could no longer meet the requirements of today, leading local authorities to launch an international competition for the restructuring and enlargement of the school campus in 2015, won by Behnisch Architekten in association with the Atelier 2A+.
Some parts of the existing secondary school have been kept and two new buildings built: the primary school, designed as a pavilion in the park in the northern area, and the gymnasium, which completes the overall composition towards the southern area. Thus, thanks to these needed improvements, a new school group with a clear presence and numerous references to the adjacent landscape has been achieved.
A successful symbiosis between old and new
The look of the campus depends largely on the parasol structures, which from the park appear confidently in view, symbolically extending their protective roof over the school group.
On the entrance side and on the street side, the lycée presents an orthogonal and rectilinear structure. The classrooms, the administration as well as the kitchen areas are located here. The new parts of the building are also adjacent to the existing building in the direction of the park and the school courtyard. Here, the school building is designed in a more free and open way, with more playful architecture. Terraces differentiate its appearance and provide attractive exterior spaces for classes held outdoors.
Also located in this part of the building oriented towards the park are the canteen, the auditorium, the multimedia library and specialised classrooms. The curved wings of the building frame the school courtyard, from the middle of which the welcoming and protective parasols structures unfold. They create covered zones and mark the transition from the interior towards the exterior. Thus, the new centre of the school stands at the edge of the park, with an interior and an exterior space creating the linking the whole. This place with a stimulating ambiance is designed to host the many different activities and festivities organised by the school.
Learning environment flooded with daylight
The aim of taking advantage of natural light was a priority during the design phase of the campus. The result is premises benefitting from natural light, even in deeper internal areas. In the existing buildings, many skylights now ensure natural lighting in the classrooms. The parasols also play a key role here. The transparent covering of the umbrella structures allows light to pentetrate. The timber lamellas have two functions: firstly providing shading, secondly acting as a light deflector.
This ensures that the building benefits from winter sun whilst being protected from overheating due to direct summer sun penetration. The integrated wooden slats provide partial shade and orient daylight and summer sunshine, falling almost vertically, is blocked. The concept of ventilation includes measures for natural climate control with air being pre-cooled or preheated with ground-coupled heat exchangers.
Client: Conseil départemental des Yvelines
Architecte and lead contractor: Behnisch Architekten
Architect partner: Atelier 2A+