One day, one project : School group by Hessamfar & Vérons architectes

Groupe scolaire Hessarmfar verons
Photography by Jean-François Tremege

After a blank sheet of paper due to a busy beginning of the year, I finally find the time (and especially the project) to start a new “one day a project”. Without waiting, let’s talk about architecture of course !

For this return in 2020, I chose to stay in France, more particularly in Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire, a city known for having accompanied Anatole France in its last hours (ah-ah, you didn’t expect this surge of culture…). But if we are talking about Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire today, it is not for the sake of dear Anatole, but for a school group (3244m²) signed by the agency Hessamfar & Vérons.

I have always been sensitive to architectural sobriety, and this project caught my eye directly because of its resolutely modest approach. Between the trees, which one imagines judiciously preserved, the clear lines of the school are drawn. Simple horizontals, punctuated by wide, regular wooden beams, displaying the designers’ structural choice without detour. The dark metallic façade (we are architects after all) reinforces the contrast of the light wood without swearing with the landscape.

It is this same landscape that seems to have been particularly well cared for, especially when one looks at the surroundings of the building, which are often denigrated and relayed in the last plan for such projects. Here there is a soft entrance, a flexible path leading pupils and teachers to the entrance. And green (well ok, this one wasn’t great), again, there is some, even on the roof ! We’re talking about an educational garden, a way of living on the roofs while offering a teaching aid to the teachers. Why not.

Inside, we find the readability of the structure, as a call to questions from the students, a first step towards understanding its urbanized environment and the basics of architecture. It may not seem like much, but we’re starting from a long way off. The rooms are luminous, and seem to offer a beautiful relationship with the outside. Part of the rooms overlook the courtyard, which has now been sanitized. There are a few trees, a courtyard proudly displaying its spruce frame and concrete. Lots of concrete. Unfortunately. At least, the students will be able to take comfort in looking across the fence fence to the courtyard at the beautiful green spaces that await them at the exit of the school.

Cynicism aside, I found this project inspiring, full of a beautiful simplicity and a willingness to adapt to its landscape without fading away. The use of wood as a structural material shows ecologically responsible alternatives to concrete or steel. A nice way to show that bio-sourced is not necessarily synonymous with buildings with a dated look, on the contrary. In short, a fine example to follow!

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