Leisure centre, Pierrelaye (2004–2008)
Located in a rural town north-west of Paris, this leisure centre for kindergarten and primary school children is very simply and intelligently designed. Recalling the surrounding farm buildings, a long nave housing common areas and a vast internal circulation space acts as the interface between the city and a protected courtyard. 'Plugged' into the nave and opening onto the garden, the classrooms are conceived as tiny archetypal houses, distinguished from one another by a specific bright, saturated colour. Mindful of uses and scales, the architects designed a climatically high-performance building well before the introduction of current HQE (High Environmental Quality) standards.
Olivarius Apart’Hotel, Cergy-Pontoise (2006–2009)
Built in the new town of Cergy-Pontoise, north-west of Paris and close to a university campus, this hotel of 130 serviced apartments with shared amenities (fitness, shops, launderette, restaurant, conference rooms) is the second in a chain of low-cost, trendy apartment hotels. Organized around a large atrium, serving as both a thermal buffer and an indoor public space, the hotel consists of two main elements. The first is rectilinear and presents a highly geometric facade to a green area; the second, based on a right-angled plan, offers to the Boulevard a curved facade of pattern-stamped concrete, which reproduces the rippling movement of the curtains in the rooms.
Renovation of Curial activity centre (2003–2008)
The question of demolishing this cultural centre, built in 1987 in a large social housing estate north-east of Paris, was the subject of a municipal right versus left debate. Backed by the socialist mayor, Roger Madec, AIR has proven that it is possible to radically transform the original building and its postmodern neo-classical architecture. Using a minimum of means (bright monochromatic colours on the interior and exterior surfaces, new entrance, new garden) the architects have literally resurrected it and re-engaged its programme (150-seat auditorium, recording studios, rooms for dance, rehearsal, computing and visual arts, community bar) with neighbourhood life.
Apprentice training centre, Saint-Maur (2007–2010)
For this extension and renovation of a training centre in suburban Paris, AIR has proposed a new courtyard that connects the old and new parts of the programme. The use of one material (yellow shuttered concrete) for both walls and floors, gives unity to the angular and sculptural surfaces of this open-air space. The new building is a subtle stacking of two layers: on top of two large double-height studios rests a steel frame consisting of four monumental trussed beams, one storey high. This upper level houses the new classrooms. Sculptural qualities, programmatic intelligence, technical and climatic performance are closely combined in this project.
Student centre, University of Paris XI, Orsay (2010)
This architectural competition, won by AIR in July 2010, asked participants to design a new student centre for the University of Paris XI. Located in Orsay, in a sparsely developed suburban campus, AIR's project is conceived as a social condenser of student life. It is based on the contrast between a very geometric plan, inscribed in a perfect square, and a strongly irregular elevation, which makes this building an almost topographical event. The jagged shape of the roof, wrapped in timber solar shading, is the result of the different heights of various elements of the programme.