The site benefits from a privileged location and a strategic position in the heart of the Saint-Germain-en-Laye state-owned forest, at the intersection of major rail and road infrastructure and enjoys a strong attachment to the city centre and its territory.
In this urban context, which mixes pavilion fabric and expanses of forests, a strong architectural and historical heritage marks by its presence the successive evolutions of this site with an industrial past such as the gaze of Hennemont (1797), the Château Saint-Léger (1886) rehabilitated by Dominique Perrault in 1991, the Château d'Hennemont (1907), or the building A of the site, co-designed by Jean Prouvé in 1952.
The goal is to propose a project that integrates into the urban plan of the area while respecting the park identity and to compose this new campus drawing in the continuity of a design resulting from the dialogue of the various «object buildings» found there. This way of thinking the project is similar to Kandinsky’s paintings where the beauty of the objects is not enough, it is their interactions between them that create the emotion.
Building extensions A and B: Light is right
Intervening on an existing construction, which is also that of Jean Prouvé, is an exercise of skill and humility that designers must demonstrate.
For A&B building extensions, we chose a simple, lightweight and serial construction mode. The study of the existing facade of Building A led us to extend the geometry of pilasters dressed in stone by Prouvé. We chose a system of mouldy posts and mouldy beams of very fine wood, whose weft fits the piles below. The rhythm splits progressively in the supporting frame of the extensions and is also reshaped in the window frames thus stretching the new device. Like a roofing sheet, the lightweight cover (made of mirror-polished metal cassette) delicately covers IXblue’s offices and nurseries. The reflections generated by the glazing and metal of the new device abstained from the notion of ground and sky and thus reflect the landscape. Finally, large terraces complete the constructions and frame views either towards the castle or towards the entrance of the Parc des Sculptures or further away towards the state forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This expected relationship with the large landscape highlights a multi-scale approach to the intervention of our group.
The East Pavilion: The Upper Room
The bow position of this new building marks the west entrance and exit of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. De facto, without being the signal, it is a visible, noticed and remarkable element of the site. We sought to translate the roots of the campus at the territorial level and to symbolically root (and sustainably) teaching within the commune. To do this we chose to express the stone to dress and wear this project. The legitimacy of this constructive attitude was born both from a form of historical homage to the plethora of monuments of appropriate materiality and from the presence of quarries bordering our construction site. We choose the stones of Saint Maximin or Saint Leu, some 50 kilometres away from our plot, to build the ESR building. It is also the stones that, brought by the Seine, built the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Not wishing to pastiche the architecture of the medieval period, we wanted to work here a telluric sculpture that follows the morphology of the site.
A taut arch defines the north façade, set back from the building, while its massing is articulated as a block flared towards the eastern tip of the campus. This "eurythmic" action is transcribed in elevation on the northwest tip of the building. It allows to elevate our architecture, embedded in the topography parcel, in order to respect a height of 9m in any point compared to the natural ground before work. Finally, the interior space of the building is designed to activate the meeting of users and streamline their journey. Spaces in double height connect the levels of the classes and the spaces of amenities (cafeteria, reception, relaxation) of the project.
On the ground floor, the visible connection between the interior spaces of the ESR and the exterior of the forecourt begins a new, fertile history of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.