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Brief Published: 24 Aug 2012

Child-Centric School Design, France


Paris-based GA Architects has designed a child-friendly building for the Lapierre school in the Northern French city of Lens.

Contrary to most design for education, which pays little heed to the effect it will have on the students using it (especially young children), the low-rise, two-storey building has been designed to present a considerably less intimidating environment for youngsters. The building does this by incorporating gentle curves in child-friendly timber, avoiding harsh angles and structural forms.

The school has been divided into two sections, with a kindergarten on the ground floor and an elementary school on the first. Inside, the space is comprised of 14 classrooms, a library, a computer room and a canteen. A garden and playground are accessible via the recreational playground.

A green roof has been included to resemble a hill, adding to the playful design concept and bringing a nature-inspired aesthetic to the space - something notably absent in the high-rise filled urban space in which the school resides. GA Architects states: “The ceiling appears as a green ribbon, signalling the presence of vegetation. This new landscape softens the impact of the building on the site, as if it were a continuation of the ground floor.”

Porthole windows have been incorporated into the ground-floor building to let light into the open space, adding to the playful architectural styling. The exterior walls have been designed with untreated timber and plaster featuring intervals of coloured glass.

The school is due to be completed by September 2012.

GA Architects