Set in the urban fabric like a landscape that almost softens the surrounding buildings, the Maison de l’Enfance or Childhood Centre (a complex including a crèche, nursery and an elementary school) is designed as a succession of interlocking, inhabited hills which horizontally spreads out to avoid imposing tall volumes on the built context. A ribbon of roofs unfurls, each one treated as an urban meadow for the children to play in. The gentle slope of the site is used for the construction of the building’s topography of stacked levels, one of which is partly buried.
The exterior façades are composed of different coloured ceramic panels superimposed on a background of light grey plaster and glass. Photovoltaic panels are positioned all along the roof ledges. The sheltered terraces and grassy roofs are all open for playing and strolling. The succession of gentle slopes delimits the different play areas of the crèche, nursery and elementary school and are all filled with aromatic plants inviting children to garden and play in them.
The U-shaped building creates a vast inner courtyard around which the schools are organised. The shared facilities—dining hall, library, computer room, audiovisual room—are grouped together at on the ground floor of the U, while the crèche is located in the more peaceful space at the top. The two schools share the inner courtyard, with the covered playgrounds forming a strip that delimits a space for the elementary school courtyard on one side, and for the nursery school on the other.
The construction involves a significant quantity of prefabricated elements: posts (modular), floors (alveolar plating), façades (prefabricated HQE®-Equivalent LEED- panels, insulation or glazing). The industrialisation of the elements reduces the construction time.