Montbou public school

David Closes Architects as Architects

The school, with a planned gross floor area of about 700 m2, had to be placed on a very small site, of just 630 m2, situated beyond on an existing sports court that was intended as the school’s playground. The surroundings were formed by a football ground to the west and, to the east, by a sector of single-family dwellings separated from the school plot by an alleyway of just three meters wide.


Practically all the openings are located in the south and north sides. This meant that the main lines of sight through the buildings follow a lengthwise line across the site, the direction that is not interrupted by other constructions (the football ground or the single-family houses). This favoured the longest lines of sight: in one direction towards woods and hills to the south of the village, and in the other overlooking, the watercourse and fields situated to the north.


Both the arrangement of the main flows of the building (entries and exits, and the stairways and lobbies inside) and the formalization of the porch (where draws together all the circulation flows) further aim to highlight these views.


The school’s main entrance comprises a ramp tangent to the alleyway that passes through the east façade almost without a trace, like a child who hides under the skirts of his mother without raising them. In this way, the façade maintains the appearance of a blind wall that envelopes and encloses the entrance porch. The ramp, the blind walls and the east fence aim to extend and enhance the public space of the passageway and guide users to the school and to the playgrounds crossing the porch. The formalization of the east façade, almost devoid of references of scale, tries to give to the small school a character of public building.

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