Ecole Maternelle Javelot; France

Eva Samuel Architects are credited with designing a revolutionary concept redefining the way children use space in education.  Designers consider their Parisian Kindergarten to be a "sophisticated toy". The current building had to go through serious renovations to become a suitably functional and inspiring place for children.  It was necessary to fill in a swimming pool, move a bowling alley, pierce floors and create openings, to enlarge the school downwards through the concrete slab and give it a street-level entrance.  In short, and extension by excavation.

The building's envelope is a response to several environmental aims: visual protection, increased natural light to counteract the surrounding solar screens, no thermal bridges, natural ventilation and double flux in winter. The school is the first to comply with the City of Paris's climate plan.  The result is a thick facade with varied reliefs – bay, alcove, and concave windows – which are used horizontally on the roof as skylights and to house air treatment machinery and ventilation chimneys.  These multi-form strawberry-colored elements enliven and dematerialize the facades.  Their anodized aluminum cladding changes from pink to golden grey to green depending on one's movements,  point of view, and the color of the sky and reflections from nearby buildings.

The atmosphere inside the school is gentle and serene.  The only colors are those of the materials themselves, such as the wood of the false ceilings and the bay windows.  The facade's thickness creates a strong sense of protection and minimizes outlook from neighboring towers.  The children enjoy taking over the micro- spaces generated by the facade's thickness, using them as mini-living rooms, for reading, tea parties, hiding, etc.