Town nursery, country nursery… The contrast between town and country portrayed by Jean de La Fontaine guided the course of action in this bipartite project. Two nurseries - one municipal, the other run by a foundation - were to be installed on a single plot in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. An extension to a building dating from the early twentieth century, the new building was to be erected taking account of existing trees that had to be retained. A conservation zone defined by the land use plan occupied half of the site. Based on these two "incumbent assets" - the building and the greenery -, Jean-François Schmit wished to produce a coherent, readable, functional and comfortable whole for all users, both children and adults. The extension, impressive in size compared to the existing building, is placed in a potent and simple volume at the rear of the plot. Following a theme that is dear to him, the design is approached in the same way as that of an item of furniture. The installation of timber cladding on the parallelepipeds of the extension gives them a warm appearance and a playful character.
The rural-urban contrast is also reflected in a street-garden contrast, expressed in an intentionally emphatic manner. On Avenue Félix-Faure, the Espérance day nursery retains its architectural originality with its original gritstone facade. It is, however, rid of its unsightly extensions, replaced by a new volume similar in style to the new building. On the garden side, the new building housing the Félix-Faure day nursery enjoys the advantage of three facades, three orientations, affording a multiplicity of views into the heart of the site. The two facilities share a single entrance, reached by way of a path through the green parts of the plot. Set back from the street, distancing the urban world, this itinerary acts as a filter between the city and nurseries, developing a world apart, specific to the childhood universe. The surface areas of the two facilities are identical and certain premises are shared: pram and pushchair park, utility room and kitchen. A terrace overhanging the entrance connects the two units at first-floor level. In the existing building, the roof structure has been preserved: it is visible in some playrooms, feeding the imagination of these children making their way between street and garden.