The Chirens site is a beautiful and unusual hilly countryside. The architecture’s relationship to the natural and built landscapes is central to our approach. The surrounding hills offer multiple viewpoints on the building; the treatment of the roofing is thus particularly important.
The college is a rather imposing facility compared to the houses that make up the surrounding environment. All the functions are organised under a low continuous landscape-roof. This roof rises from the ground and extends to cover the premises organised on one or two levels. It is a wood and grass relief; its design is a triangulation-game that rises from the ground. A grass surface starts horizontally at ground level, rises obliquely and extends to form the CDI volume, a privileged space located on the second floor, at the gravity centre of the whole project and open towards the Clermont tower. The grass surface, by crossing the wood surfaces, reduces the mass effect by generating an ambiguity between what belongs to the landscape and what belongs to the building: natural and built elements blend together.
All the classrooms have a north/south orientation. They are distributed on two levels by an open passageway bordered by tinted raw-concrete walls. Inside, starting from the transparent hall, the circulations are fluid and evident and all naturally lit. The internal organisation is simple and functional.
Wood is the main material, for the façade, as roof toping and for the structure, along with concrete and steel. The classrooms’ facades alternate solid and glass irregular vertical strips. The prefabricated solid parts are made of full-height wood caissons clad with Alpine larch. The floors are made using the mixed “wood/concrete” technique.