Designed by Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes (DFA), The Lucie Aubrac Primary school and Kindergarden in Nanterre, a northwestern suburb of Paris, is a public institution with a strong identity. The site, close to the business district of La Défense, in an area of concentrated social housing, demanded a very specific solution for this new school building.
Distinguished by its spatial organisation, the building's free form differentiates it from the surrounding rigid social housing which is indicative of the "Province de France" area in Nanterre.
Organised around two courtyards which offer the children contrasting outdoor areas, the complex provides a square yard for the kindergarten, whilst the elementary school's area exists as a trapezium, with a gymnasium completing the campus to the south. The east wing features the Centre de Loisirs, which is a residence for boarding students, but also includes areas open to residents of the neighbourhood who are welcome to use the library facilities.
The overhang of the library extends to the north facing main entrance thus providing a sheltered forecourt for parents and children along with an area fitted with bicycle racks.The striking façades of the building are made from untreated pine slats, which are alternated with glass surfaces providing a rich texture to the building's form.
The entire school building is surrounded by a corridor punctuated with windows of different sizes and gives direct access to the classrooms and facilities. The corridor also provides an effective noise control for the courtyard orientated classrooms with natural light allowed to flood into each one thanks to its positioning.