Despite its tight urban site, the new school in Meinier Switzerland, designed by Mue Atelier d’Architecture, succeeds in generating public space and establishing a rich dialogue with its surroundings due to its location. A building with a legible volume and benevolent character; a discovery…
The school programme groups together the nursery and primary school in response to a modest but steady increase in population within the municipality. In 2017, an open architectural competition proposed, in addition to a demolition project, the construction of a new school with ten classrooms, workshops and a physical education room. Among the 120 proposals, the jury was convinced by the insertion, rationality and sensitive attributes of the project designed by Mue Atelier d’Architecture.
Exemplary of development within the municipality, this new facility completes the renewal of the town centre. The uniqueness of the project lies in its ability to build a coherent school group around a covered courtyard, a development that creates a built link between the new school and two existing school buildings.
The compact architecture made it possible to extend the public space and establish links with existing green spaces, a transformation that is part of the town centre spatial continuity. The simple built volume is compatible with its built environment composed of isolated buildings with plastered facades, regular openings that provide a framework.
The school takes this vocabulary into account with its main facades clad in prefabricated concrete panels with a specified granular composition. The bush-hammered frames contrast with the sandblasted finish of the main elements to emphasise the openings and oak joinery.
The appropriate distances between buildings, the adapted proportions, materials and construction details generate a beautiful spatiality and give the structure its welcoming character. Volumetric legibility is expressed in the design of the facility – all classrooms are located on the upper floors. North orientated, they enjoy uniform daylight and are protected during heatwaves. The distribution over the entire length of the building provides a generous and bright space, easily appropriated by its users.
Linked directly to the courtyard, the ground floor is planned on the same principle – the lobby provides access to the administration, extracurricular facilities and educational workshops overlooking the street. A monumental staircase gives access to the upstairs classrooms and the basement, where plant rooms and storerooms are located.
Natural, durable materials, fit for purpose – terrazzo, timber, concrete – confer a warm softness to the interior design.
An energy-independent building implies simplicity in its use and maintenance. Orientation, built volume and a high-performance envelope are the primary criteria that reduce its energy consumption. The externally insulated envelope and concrete structure provide high thermal inertia. Energy production is provided by a heat pump together with a rooftop photovoltaic solar energy unit. A simple natural ventilation system operated by users was chosen. All of these parameters underscore the environmental quality of the Meinier school extension.