Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
No-residential day camp in Givors, France by Tectoniques architects
February 5th, 2016 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Tectoniques architects
Canopy is something of a buzz word at the moment and like any buzz word is rather over used, popular because it refers to a certain notion of nature that harks back to the earth’s beginning. Yet despite this over use, this is exactly what comes to mind when visiting Tectoniques’ project in Givors, a town close to the city of Lyon.
Moving through the gently sloping forecourt, the visitor arrives in the entrance areas and immediately has the wonderful feeling of finding themselves up amongst the trees. A cantilevered structure with floor to ceiling windows: the natural environment has never been closer, flying high, overlooking the land below, suspended in the air.
The total transparency on the north-west side of the building opens up views of the Gier and Rhône valleys which coverge just below the site.
A facility born out of social conviction
Givors is a town situated 20 kilometres to the south of Lyon. The town council has been run by the Communist party since the 1950s and its commitment to building new facilities is a reflection of its social convictions. There are 130,000 m2 of programmes for 20,000 inhabitants, a figure normally only reached in towns with 40,000 to 50,000 inhabitants.
This non-residential day camp centre covering a surface area of 1,200 m2 is open to children aged 4 – 12 years old when the schools are closed (Wednesdays and school holidays).
Its spatial organisation means it can be used outside of these periods for seminars or other private functions.
Blending into the landscape
The project is located away from the city centre on a rural site. It offers all the advantages of the hilly landscapes that are characteristic of the Rhône valley, providing fantastic views. On the edge of a housing estate, the new building is situated opposed the old day camp centre, built in the 1960s, which has now been demolished.
The building occupies the upper section of the plot, thus freeing up as much land as possible. It has a minimal impact on the land thus optimising its use. It forms a backdrop to the landscape and is remarkably discreet for a programme of this size. Stretched out into a 150° angle, the building follows the topography of the land. The slope means that it was possible to create two floors with level accesses from the exterior. On the upper floor, the access from the road leads naturally onto the entrance areas, administrative, activity and living spaces. On the lower floor, the canteen and service areas open directly out onto the covered play area and meadow.
The use of pre-grown green roof trays helps the project to blend into its surroundings, notably when viewed from above or from a distance.
As well as fitting in perfectly with the surrounding landscape, the building is structured over two floors in a clear and comprehensible manner, making it extremely user-friendly both for the staff and the young children who use the building. Although the two floors are broadly similar, they are also in many ways distinct and complementary.
The cave and the sky – a dual construction
The principle on which the construction is built draws a contrast between the solid basement in black glazed pattern imprinted concrete, and the lighter upper level made of wood. The base is built on a concrete slab on the foundations which support the peripheral walls, the internal load-bearing walls, the load-bearing pillars and the retaining walls used to hold back the sloping land. The mineral pattern used on the imprinted concrete and the black glaze create a cave-like feel.
The belvedere on the upper level is extremely light in contrast with the solid foundation. It is entirely made of wood, with a wooden framework covered with pre-tinted larch siding or bakelite-coated composite panels in “Tectoniques” yellow. A CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) overhanging roof protects the building from excess sunlight. It emphasises the building’s ethereal feel.
One side open, one side closed
The shape and site mean the building mainly faces east towards the meadows and west towards the hill face. The spatial organisation is simple. The living spaces: activity areas, reading room and canteen benefit from views and natural sunlight; the plant rooms face the slope and can be accessed directly.
Between the two the vertical access is mounted with a skylight to allow natural light into the building. This feature and the wooden roof form waves moving in opposite directions.
Mixing three complementary construction processes
This project is a faithful reflection of the fundamentals on which Tectoniques bases its work – the materials are selected for uses where they offer the best possible environmental, economic and functional performance. Three different constructive processes are used in a complementary manner: concrete, poured in situ and imprinted, to hold the land; walls composed of a wooden framework to build a load-bearing, high performance envelope with the benefit of working more quickly thanks to the use of prefabricated structures; and wide, overhanging, CLT roofs which protect the building from inclement weather and excess sunlight.
There are no pretences, the technical features are voluntarily left on display: the ventilation shafts, the cable ducts pass uncovered through the walkways.
Contact Tectoniques architects