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School complex, Bobigny

School complex and leisure centre, Bobigny (Photo: Florian Kleinefenn)
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Hard shell, soft inside

Hard shell, soft inside

BOBIGNY (FR) - 'Great architecture in Grand Paris', the Tour Guide that appeared in A10 #37, featuring mostly small-scale projects, can once again be expanded upon with a new school in the greater Parisian metropolis. In addition to the previously published schools by Bernard Ropa and BP architectures on the south-west side of the chic French capital, a new primary school complex was completed at the end of last year in the suburb of Bobigny. The municipality is located north-east of the city, just above the Canal de l'Ourcq. Bobigny is infamous for its grands ensembles, now mostly problematic large-scale developments from the 1960s and '70s with high concentrations of social housing.

School complex and leisure centre, Bobigny (Photo: Florian Kleinefenn)
School complex and leisure centre, Bobigny (Photo: Florian Kleinefenn)
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The 5000 m2 school, day care, sports and recreation centre and library was designed by Mikou Studio, founded in 2005 by the sisters Selma and Salwa Mikou. After studying architecture in Paris and Lausanne, the twins, who were born in Fez (Morocco), gained years of experience working with, among others, Renzo Piano and Jean Nouvel.

On the north and east sides, the new complex presents a flat, angular-patterned skin. This mosaic-like facade of coloured wooden panels screens the school from the surrounding city. The various entrances to the complex are also located here. In contrast to this 'hard' side, the school opens up towards the sunny south-west by means of several ascending terraces.

School complex and leisure centre, Bobigny (Photo: Florian Kleinefenn)

On the ground floor of the complex is a day care surrounding an oval-shaped, enclosed outdoor play area. This allows young children the freedom to safely play outside. On the first and second floors, the primary school has exterior rooms, which overlook the courtyard. A likewise oval-shaped atrium within the building brings natural light into the interior circulation spaces on the various floors. To counteract resonance and echoing in the round spaces, acoustic-dampening ceilings and walls were used.

School complex and leisure centre, Bobigny (Photo: Florian Kleinefenn)
School complex and leisure centre, Bobigny (Photo: Florian Kleinefenn)
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All in all, the school is yet another fine example of the well-functioning system of open competitions in France, through which medium-sized, lesser-known architectural offices can acquire extensive public procurements.

Tuesday | 7 May | 2013 | France | Emiel Lamers
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