La Bruyère high school is composed of four buildings erected at different times. The school canteen was achieved in 1980 as an extension of the historical building constructed at the end of the nineteenth century. As the high school is built on a steep slope site, the canteen is half buried and enlightened only by zenithal openings. The purpose of the operation is the kitchen’s upgrading, the creation of a second line of distribution to respond to an increase of requests and the refurbishment of the teachers and students’ refectory. The school restaurant takes place in a 70m long, 14m wide and 6m high volume divided into three parts : the kitchen East, the refectory West and in the center the distribution line, the laundry and access to garden by the roof terrace.
The main asset of the project is the realization of a mezzanine at the center of the volume: first it allows spreading the flows coming from the roof of the refectory on both lines of distribution and avoiding crossing flows out of the restaurant, while ensuring continuity between the kitchen and the canteen for the staff. Afterwards, the mezzanine provides an additional relaxing and meeting space, offering a stunning view on the refectory throughout large windows. The project stands out for the implementation of two wooden parts, in birch precisely, defining the atmosphere and different spaces: on one hand, the balloon frame false ceiling that connects the refectory with the mezzanine and on another hand, the alcove which forms the teachers’ dining hall.
These two elements aim to qualify each space in a different way while providing a reading of the existing volume the widest and most generous way possible. This is why, the teachers’ dining room was designed as a cocoon within the students’ refectory, a cocoon formed by a two meter high furniture both visual barrier and seat. Meanwhile, the false ceiling is lowered as if it was drawn above the alcove, providing more privacy to this space and improving the acoustic features. The game between the two components, ceiling and alcove, offers an alternative to the traditional partitioning by proposing a richer and more subtle relationship between the two refectories, redefining thereby the concepts of intimacy and communication.
The expression of raw materials – colorless varnished wood, polished concrete floor et galvanized railings, the care given to their implementation as well as the visibility of the structure and of the technical bodies express the particular attention to the raw material, the one that was already there, the one used to build and which is too often hidden from public view. The ceiling is like a veil that shows what is going on behind the scenes. To achieve the complex geometry of the false ceiling and the alcove in an economic way, these works designed in 3 dimensions were assembled with flat elements, cut digitally in simple plywood panels and aluminum foils. All along the shipyard, a close collaboration between the craftsmen, the architect, the project office and the users was necessary, both for the manufacturing of specific elements and for the realization of an earthenware fresco drawn by the students and carried out by the tiler.