Giraffe, polar bear and ladybirds bring a childcare centre to life in Paris
For a child, going to hospital can be a scary experience but for youngsters in Paris there is a freshly completed healthcare facility which looks to take away this fear by introducing ‘a little bit of fantasy’. Hondelatte Laporte Architectes’ Giraffe Childcare Center reached completion in 2012 and is a sterling example of intelligent building design.
A stone’s throw from Jean Nouvel’s Horizons scheme in Boulogne-Billancourt, the Giraffe Childcare Center incorporates immense figures of a polar bear, ladybird beetles and a towering yellow giraffe into the architecture to animate the landscape and make the healthcare complex more welcoming to young children.
The practice explains: “Architecture turns into storytelling. The building changes its identity and becomes a landscape in its own right, a metaphor for the urban jungle. The animals and the trees link the building to nature and motion. The giraffe has become a banner for the nursery since it is visible in the surrounding area from all angles.”
To gain access to the building one must walk through the knobbly yellow legs of the giraffe, engaging in the playfulness of the design. A rugged polar bear sculpture climbs up to the nursery, a cluster of ladybirds make their way across the façade and the giraffe from which the childcare center takes its name feasts on nearby trees.
The facades of the building are made of white corrugated iron as a blank canvas for the creatures that define the center, arranged over three tiers to speak to the high density buildings in the vicinity. In total the complex has a 60-bed childcare center and a 20-bed nursery, within a highly sustainable design which has achieved ‘zero Energie Effinergie’ rating.