The golden School – an emblematic facility
Located in the inner suburbs of Paris, Champigny-sur-Marne is part of the dynamic urban “Grand Paris” development programme covering the entire metropolitan region. Just a stone’s throw from the city centre and the planned station for the “Grand Paris Express” public trans-portation project currently under development, the Courtilles district is expanding its infrastruc-ture. This includes the first school and leisure centre to accommodate nursery and primary school children opened in this town since 1974.
“The project aims to allow for population growth over the next few years,” explains the respon-sible officer in the Champigny town hall. “In addition to the requirements for an environmentally friendly building in accordance with the French HQE (Haute Qualité Environnementale) specifi-cations, the specification demanded an optimum use of common spaces and a robust and maintenance-friendly building. “And all of this within the necessarily tight budgetary con-straints.”
The contract was awarded to Valero Gadan Architectes & Associés for its project of a school committed to the ideal of republican values and open to all which, according to Bernard Valero, is “precious”. The combination of exposed concrete and metal, in particular the external skin forming a protection from the sun and with its high, vertical golden profiles, sets the building apart from the surrounding residential area.
The challenge - a functional, durable and flexible building
The architecture of the building reflects two imperatives: functionality and a long service life. Its design skilfully takes advantage of the constraints of the elongated plot of land which has a height difference of 4.30 m. The primary school is a three storey, 6,780 m2 building on the southern boulevard, while the two-storey nursery school (“Maternelle”) is located on the quieter northern side. These two worlds are linked by the cafeteria in the centre of the building com-plex.
An internal pathway running on three levels connects all areas of the complex: the schools, their associated leisure areas and the foyer. The nursery and primary school children have their own playgrounds but share the rooftop school gardens.
The sustainability concept serves two purposes: ensuring long-term low carbon footprint of the building, its flexibility for changes in usage, and a robust resilient construction for everyday use. The self-protection of the building is based primarily on exposed concrete walls, special timber flooring, fibre styrene boards for suspended ceilings, etc. This also includes the use of metal in the form of gold-coloured solar shading devices on the street sides and along the internal pathway, smooth silver cladding on the playground side, and WICONA aluminium frames
Top performance and discrete construction
The straight-line appearance of the façades and openings conceals a great variety of solutions implemented by the company STM of the Roger Delattre Group. Three versions of the MECA-NO curtain walling are used (52 mm supporting construction): the straight MECANO VEC SSG façade solution covers more than 450 m2 below the golden ribbon of vertical solar shading de-vices on the south and west façades of the primary school; the high performance MECANO version with point fixing, which is particularly efficient in terms of tightness and insulation, and the integrated WICSTYLE 65 doors which allow plenty of natural light into the ground floors; and last the MECANO version with continuous fixing for greater panel thicknesses (up to 42 mm) which is used for the 19 m2 glazed roof to allow natural light to enter the internal staircase.
The supporting constructions boast the same variety with the WICLINE 65 HI (High Insulation) solution in the form of fixed light or opening light and the WICSLIDE 65 sliding systems, sometimes as single units, frequently with integrated glazed spandrel, and sometimes combining sliding/fixed/opening/fire service functions. Fire safety solutions complete the system (WICSTYLE 77 FP doors and frames).
A model for future projects
“Thanks to our efficient overall cost approach we were able to achieve a very good performance level and implement a sustainable facility without exceeding the budget,” emphasises the responsible official from the town hall of Champigny-sur-Marne. “As the school was only opened in September 2018, it is too early to say how easy it is to maintain. This project will serve as a reference for future school projects.” The golden school, as it has been named by residents, has established itself as a valuable facility.