African Design Magazine November 2015 - Page 41

International project Saint Denis School MAKING STATEMENT Niki de Saint-Phalle – Petits Cailloux in Saint Denis, France, is composed of a nursery with eight classrooms, a primary school with ten classrooms, a school cafeteria and a recreation centre. The building has three levels and a basement which contains a service room. F or an equal allocation of the access and connections to the different units, the construction site has been divided into six parts: three outdoor (entrance, nursery playground and primary playground) and three indoor (nursery school, primary school and school cafeteria with recreation centre). From this division results a clover-shaped building that offers, in addition to convergent and economic corridors, a perfect connection between the inside and the outside (many views, points of access and an intuitive orientation) Architectural concept Inside the building, considering the teaching difference between the nursery school and the primary school, the architects developed two spatial designs as different as the right brain can be from the left. Our brain hemispheres are symmetrical, but not identical, because of their distinct vital functions. This building is symmetrical, however, only in appearance. The fact of entering the school in diapers and leaving knowing how to read, arithmetic, science, and geography, perfectly illustrates how huge the gap is between these two aspects of schooling. The nursery classrooms are systematically composed of three circular spaces with three different diameters and ceiling height. The primary classrooms are square shaped with a side completely “vitrée” (made of glass?). The pore spaces between the circles are used for storage allowing more area for the classrooms. The multi-purpose nursery room is circular with a half spherical ceiling and the primary one is square with a pyramidal ceiling. These two huge spaces open onto the playgrounds and benefit from large overhead lighting. Also by opening onto the corridors, they contribute to the natural indoor lighting and the ease of orientation in the building with the transparencies between the inside and the outside. 41