Public school
Nimes, Gard, France

A large part of the programme is placed on the first upper floor to comply with flood protection requirements for the area. As a result, the architecture is unique among the design schemes produced by the firm. The building seems to float a few metres above the ground, like a vessel hovering at the height of the roofs of the surrounding houses.
In order to reduce the mass and impact of the scheme, the building is broken down into four volumes, which seem to slide between the trees. These volumes, occupied by the classrooms and the leisure area, rest on a series of solid stone walls arranged on the east-west grid lines, and on the north-south lines of slender metal columns. This heavy-light contrast is one of the distinguishing features of the scheme. The cross-shaped plan allows simple, clearly visible operation. The circulation areas are not just ordinary corridors. They are treated like habitable areas, widely open to the landscape, with views in all four directions. The partitions between the classrooms and the circulation areas are partly glazed, to allow through views from one external wall to the other. The internal atmosphere is similar to an open-plan office area, as opposed to the conventional type of corridor confined between enclosed classrooms.
The ground floor contains the canteen, the multi-purpose room, and the ancillary and service areas. These areas are divided into two self-contained blocks, to preserve the openness and transparency of the whole. The unconstructed areas in the west are used for the schoolyard and the covered playground area, while the east side is used for parking. The covered playground area is extended by raised timber decking, which is itself extended by a lawn play area. At the south-west corner, a storm water retention pond forms a wet garden, inaccessible to the children, which physically represents the site’s liability to flooding. On the upper floor, the five classrooms face east. The offices, rest areas, computer rooms, library and leisure area are arranged along the east elevation. The building services plant rooms occupy the central strip.

Public school, Nimes, Gard, France

1750 m2
3,5 M.€HT
Department, City of Nimes
Architects and surveyors
Associated architects
Atelier GA
Landscape designer
Itinéraire bis
Lighting designer
Les Eclaireurs
Timber & metal structures
Anglade Structures Bois
Environmental engineers
Construction works management consultants
Building environmental quality consultants
Environmental approach
BBC-Effinergie certification (with consumption lower than 40 kWh of primary energy per m2 per year)
Label Or (Gold Label) certification of the Bâtiments Durables Méditerranéens association for sustainable building.

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