A stunning new school by Tectoniques Architects has been completed in Rillieux-la-Pape, France. Constructed almost entirely out of wood - including a wooden lift shaft - the Paul Chevallier School in the northern suburb of Lyon encompasses both nursery and elementary schools and plans are to install a gym on the same site for use by the pupils and local community next year.
One of the defining features of the school is an undulating grass roof which is already sprouting scarlet blooms, accessible via the first floor. Tectoniques Architects explains: “Lending its tone to the entire project, this extra ‘façade’ represents the lyrical nature of the relationship between nature and architecture, in a Japanese-inspired atmosphere.”
Both the nursery and elementary schools are arranged in rectangular modules in ‘V’ formations, embracing either a garden (the nursery) or a courtyard (the elementary school). Open spaces are a key element of this scheme with a vegetable garden and discovery path both available to the children for outdoor learning and play. The entire facility is punctured with large windows to draw light inside and to inspire the children to engage with nature.
The school is located on a slope across from the wooded Brosset Park on a quiet green site near dense, low-rise housing. Parents are encouraged to congregate at the end of a pedestrian pathway to generate a sense of community while children can enjoy playgrounds and gardens on the southern side of the site.
Each of the classrooms is rectangular in shape and generous in size, capable of taking approximately 30 children. The standardised shape of these rooms from an internal perspective stands in direct contrast to the irregularity of the exterior where no two facades are the same. Wood has been used heavily in construction, as with the majority of Tectoniques’ schemes, with walls, facades and floors all completed in this natural material to give ‘solidity and depth’.