Ecole Samuel Paty: learning among architecture and green spaces
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Ecole Samuel Paty: learning among architecture and green spaces

A new complex built with respect for its setting in the Dèveze district of Béziers

ateliers O-S architectes | NAS Architecture

Ecole Samuel Paty: learning among architecture and green spaces
By Editorial Staff -

Comprising both nursery and elementary schools, the new Ecole Samuel Paty is a symbol of the changes underway in its neighborhood of Dèveze, Béziers. Since 2004, this area of France’s Occitanie region has seen far-reaching transformations aimed at reducing its building density and providing a more diverse, more human-scale living experience. The district’s large, typically 1970s buildings have been downsized, so to speak, into smaller, less visually impactful buildings, but without compromising any of their various functionalities. Designed by ateliers o-s architectes in collaboration with NAS architecture, the Ecole Samuel Paty is emblematic of all this. Compared with the previous Ecole de Oliviers, the complex is protected from external comings and goings, designed around two courtyards, and divided into juxtaposed volumes. The distribution of spaces allowed the creation of lush micro-landscapes of greenery, whereby nature has become a fundamental part of the everyday life of the school community. All these characteristics mean it’s possible to speak of a dualism between porosity and solid boundaries in a complex that extends longitudinally, reflecting the topography of the site.

The single level, the almost exclusive use of pitched roofs, the essential geometric shapes, the soft colors, and the inclusion of greenery all contribute to the school’s smooth integration into its setting. With large, high windows that invite the eye to wander from inside to out, and vice versa, the porosity of the design is also perceived from inside, helping create inviting teaching and common spaces. Differently shaped openings and windows along the corridors bring natural light inside.

The porosity and solid boundaries of the architecture can be seen as what gives shape to the project as a whole. On the one hand, there is an openness to outdoors and the openair play spaces, offering children large and informal learning areas, including courtyards, terraced areas, and hybrid porticoed areas. On the other, these spaces are protected from any potential hazards lying beyond the school’s boundaries.


The values of greenery and sharing

Scuola Samuel Paty, o-s and NAS ©Cyrille Weiner, courtesy of o-s and NAS

Green spaces play a fundamental role in the design of the Ecole Samuel Paty. This reflects something of the natural history of the neighborhood, with an emphasis placed on conserving the centuries-old plane trees and pines on the site. Generous plantings have also been incorporated into the heart of the school, these sometimes emerging from the circular openings that allow zenithal light to enter the hybrid spaces.

From indoors to out, the organization of the spaces is easy for children of all ages to grasp, particularly when finding their way to common areas such as the canteen and library (both detached from the main structure but clearly connected to it), the teaching garden, and medical center. The result is that the different functions of each space are further underscored.

The final project is very much like a village within a village, with the complex fully self-sufficient and equipped with all the services needed in the day-to-day life of its students.

>>> Also read about the renovation of the Ecole Frédéric Joliot-Curie.


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Location: Béziers, France
Architects: ateliers o-s architectes and NAS Architecture
Area: 3.800 m2
Completion: 2023

Photography by Cyrille Weiner, courtesy of o-s and NAS

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