Nantes School of Architecture Preview
About the author
Lacaton & Vassal is a French office founded in 1987 by architects Jean-Philippe Vassal [1954-] and Anne Lacaton [1955-]. From a conceptual and constructive point of view, they have been doing practically the same for twenty years: they redefine the parameters on which the assignments are based –whether they are competitions or direct assignments-, reduce the clients’ esthetical expectations –that are always relative- and improve a logic in which a larger space is associated with a better quality of life. Understood as a synthesis of hard data, abstraction results are overriding for the architects because then they are able to provide an extra space to the client; a space that they hadn’t even considered. The investigation Plus, Large scale housing development, an exceptional case (Gustavo Gili, Barcelona, 2007) is about French post-war social housing –Grands Ensembles- where “extra space” is added to the existing structure. Among their constructed projects, Latapie House , Palais de Tokyo , Nantes School of Architecture  and the renovation of Bois-le-Prêtre tower in the 17th district of Paris [which were awarded by the Equerre d’Argent 2011], stand out. They have won the French National Architecture Award 2008.
About the work
In building a structure of great capacity, the project design comes up with a scheme capable of creating a set of rich and diverse situations of interest to the School of architecture, the city and the landscape.
Three decks at nine, sixteen and twenty-two meters above the natural ground level, served by a gentle sloping external ramp, progressively put the ground surface of the city in touch with the sky overhead.
A lightweight steel structure redivides the height of these main levels. It enables the spaces devoted to the program to be generously installed and it also creates a system adapted to their extension and their future evolution.
Linked to the spaces of the program are ample, double-height volumes with non-attributed functions, the transparent facades harness the sun rays and vouchsafe the indoor climate. On the initiative of the students, teachers or visitors, these spaces become the locus of possible appropriations, events and programming. The adaptation of the school to new interventions and reconversions is possible at any moment.
Like a pedagogical tool, the project questions the program and the practices of the school as much as the norms, technologies and its own process of elaboration.
Lacaton & Vassal
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