Montpellier, France, 2013-09-05 -
The overall restructuring of Albert Einstein High School, ends with the completion of the last building renovation developed by the architect agency NB (Elodie Nourrigat & Jacques Brion) associated with François Privat architects. The High School Albert Einstein, Brassens site, is a vast building of the 60’s. Built following a strict and repetitive pattern, it is composed of large linear buildings from 60 to 80 m length and large metallic workshops surrounded by large dilated and unattractive space. Site’s analysis shows several functional gaps. Today it is important to change establishment’s image by the way of idea and contemporary vision.
The objective was to think a new spatial organization of the site in order to provide at students, teachers and the administration staff, a workspace and a real place of life appropriable by all. A restructuring strategy was established in three main points:
• Reconquest’s strategy “Find place’s scale”
The stake is to reconquest the human scale in building and outdoor spaces by a better distribution of the buildings. The project draws one’s inspiration from campus model, which presents the advantage to be flexible and to allow a better identification of education’s poles. This intervention process also allows to students to find easily a way and fit into a social life while being supervised (easy reading of circulations, gratitude of spaces)
Thereby a centrality, a heart of establishment close to all functions has been possible. The court is the major element of the project, a meeting’s place but also a transition place. Its localization offers directs connections with the cafeteria, the restaurant place, administration, workshop, general teaching and school life rooms. Its allows to gather the students during their free time. That is why it is necessary to propose qualities of specific spaces, easily appropriable, playful and to bring a feature to the exteriors arrangements. The landscape treatment of the court is voluntary urban type like a central place, mainly mineral, allowing a differentiation with the gardens. To find this human scale, it was also necessary to achieve low heights buildings with low influence on the ground to get a better distribution and space’s occupation. This flexibility allows an adaptation to the program and to the discipline in constant evolution
• A real landscape project
Spaces are treated and easily recognizable to assert an idea of sequences and gratitude education’s pole. Densify the gardens between the buildings can provide a plant screen that enhances the visual and thermal comfort facades comfort. Visual borderlines are more and more wide thanks to the preserving of the green space in the Northwest of the High School. The project proposes to create an alternation between dense wooded areas, buildings, more minerals places like the circulations areas equipped with benches and shade structures, and specific soil treatment which provide landscape diversity. The objectiveis to find a building / plant balance.
• To join over time
Restructuring an educational institution is to plan ahead and think about the long term.. It is not enough to produce a building operating during its delivery. It is necessary to give to it the strength to cross the time and to be a successful tool. Our intervention takes into account the educational project, the architectural flexibility, the environmental protection and the public character of the building. For it, it is necessary to become aware of the place in which the intervention will fit and bring to the foreground its fundamental qualities. The natural elements have to become the symbols of the equipments even more when it is about places of training. The architectural project becomes itself an educational object, because it shows a conscious act of a reality but especially stakes in the environmental scale, in a concern to leave with the future generations a healthy living environment. Thinking a sustainable development project requires taking account of qualitative materials, technical work on energy management, but also a logical layout of workplaces. It is in the sense that we began this project, by joining in the time. The intervention that we propose allows to restore coherence and feature to the set by means of a new spatial scenography.
The last building designed with landscaping, reflects this logic and strategy of reconquest the place. It hosts an application restaurant as well as teaching rooms. Particular attention has been given to the building envelope. Working on a set thickness of the transitional area between the inside and the outside, the skin of the building is available in a colorful alternating between aluminum panels painted and sun breezes. The sun breezes offer vibrations that contrast with the concrete shell. The facilities offer specific meeting places around vegetated entity.
After more than ten years of close collaboration, Elodie Nourrigat, Jacques Brion and Romain Jamot architects have created the agency NBJ in 2013 in Montpellier. This comes from the combination of two structures, N+B Architects, which was founded by Elodie Nourrigat and Jacques Brion in 2000 and Romain Jamot Architects, established in 2003. All three are graduates of the Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture de Montpellier (ENSAM) and Elodie Nourrigat and Jacques Brion obtained in 2002 a Master of Philosophy degree. Elodie Nourrigat has obtained in 2011 a PhD in Architecture. They are also teachers at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture de Montpellier (ENSAM). The current structure of the agency brings a structured team of professionals with expertise in architecture, urban planning, sustainable environmental issues and engaging in programs to explore new way of project development. Their projects join different scales, whether architectural or urban.Their work has been recognized through various awards. In September 2008, they were invited to the 11th Architectural Biennale in Venice in the French Pavilion. The same year, they were awarded by the prize “Europe 40 under 40”, price distinguishing the top 40 agencies under 40 years in Europe. The project of the Activity Park of Camalcé in Gignac, was distinguished by the " International Award 2009 " price, attributed by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum. They carry their education abroad, whether is at Laval University in Quebec City (Canada), RMIT in Melbourne (Australia), Tohku University in Sendai (Japan), College of Design at the University of Kentucky (USA) . Invested in the dissemination of architecture culture, they create and organize since 2006, the Festival Architecture Vives, which invites young architects to intervene in the courtyards of mansions in Montpellier city and in the city of La Grande Motte.