Children’s centre, Saint Egrève

The property is on the edge of a park in a valley between the Vercors and Chartreuse mountain ranges. The entrance to the property is from the old city structure.

The building has a two-group daycare centre and facilities for children aged 0–3 who are in home care. There is also a “ludotheque” (playground) and accompanying restaurants.

We initially presented the city with two options: an open space and a series of rooms. The proposals were vetted by the relevant offcials, and they chose the more traditional solution. Our offce wanted the mayor to be able to see both options, not merely the one preselected by the offcials, and after our presentation the mayor opted for the open space. And therein began the tug of war... The offcials wanted to turn what was initially an open space into a “network of caverns”.

Because it is the sole building in the park, it stands on its own inside a solid boundary that encompasses all the exterior and interior spaces. The building merges into the surrounding landscape through its openings. Despite the revisions made to the original concept, the idea of free movement has been retained.

The children for whom the building is intended are very young, so the arrangements, lighting, temperatures and materials have been designed from a child’s sensory perspective. The building’s exterior is an extension of the interior.

The entire building is based on a reinforced concrete slab on concrete pillars, but all other structures, the exterior cladding and most of the interior cladding are wood.

Although planning began in 2014, it wasn’t completed until 2017. By that time, the old city administration had been replaced by new people who would have been prepared to stick to the original open design. Personally, I’m not at all sure if that outcome would have been better.

Project in brief
Location: 
Saint Egrève, France
Client: 
Commune Saint Egrève
Size: 
Area: 690 brm2
Structural design: 
Gaujard
Special design: 
Acoustic design: ACOUSTB