La Croze nursery school: educational architecture
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La Croze nursery school: educational architecture

This school building is an excellent example of architecture that blends with its landscape

rue royale architectes

By Editorial Staff -

Schools are a fundamental element in the life of any community. They’re a place where the adults of tomorrow are educated, where their parents meet and exchange ideas, and where ideas and projects are born. A school that’s open to all is therefore an educational tool in itself, while the design of its spaces, its relationship with its setting, its accessibility, and its liveability are all essential elements to guarantee quality teaching.

The small town of Billom, in the Puy-de-Dôme department of France, has a population of less than 5000. The construction of a new nursery school was therefore a real event for the local people, with a sense of participation and community developing around the project. And the project has always had the enthusiastic support of parents, school staff, and the community at large. The tender for its design was won by Lyon-based studio Rue Royale Architectes.


Different perspectives in green spaces

La Croze School, Rue Royale Architects ©Vladimir De Mollerat du Jeu courtesy of Rue Royale Architectes

The main objectives of the project were to create a structure that not only houses the nursery school, but also after-school spaces, including a large canteen and kitchen that will also serve the nearby primary school. Besides satisfying these requirements, Rue Royale Architectes’ project is characterized by the strong presence of nature, both inside and outside the building, the use of natural and local materials, and the airiness and brightness of the spaces.

The new building stands on a slope that, in the space of a few yards, rapidly descends to a large, flat clearing. Using the natural curve of the site, the architects have created fun pathways that give children different perceptions of the space and the architecture. A pleasant trail that runs along Rue de la Croze, crosses public parkland, and leads to the school entrance via a flight of stairs cut into the slope, connects the new school to the primary school. This is an important feature for children, offering them the chance to experience different points of view while walking through nature every day before class.

As Billom mayor Jean-Michel Charlat said, «Let’s not forget that nature plays a very important role in the education of children». And this school, set in parkland, has courtyards where kids can play as well as a teaching garden, all of which offer contact with nature. The building’s green roofs also blend harmoniously with the landscape, blurring the contours of the architecture.

>>> Also discover the Palais de l’Alma nursery school in the heart of Paris


Local materials and soft colors

La Croze School, Rue Royale Architects ©Vladimir De Mollerat du Jeu courtesy of Rue Royale Architectes

The building is divided into two sections: the nursery school, with six classrooms on two levels, and the after-school center. Both have independent entrances. Like a pivot between the different volumes, the canteen and kitchen are located at the center of the composition and act as a gathering place.

The nursery school classrooms all face the courtyard, ensuring the children’s privacy. The courtyard itself is an outdoor space that acts as a filter between the interior spaces and the outdoors.

The interiors offer a sense of calm. Natural light, large openings onto the garden, the ceiling heights of the classrooms, and the use of timber all contribute to this.

From the structural perspective, the two main materials are timber and concrete. As far as sustainability is concerned, only BTMC-certified timber was used. This certification – Bois des Territoires du Massif Central – indicates that all the timber was sourced from Massif Central, and is intended to promote the use of local materials and ensure sustainable forest management.

The colors are mainly neutral. The timber of the furniture, fixtures, and finishes, the gray of the sandblasted concrete walls, and the white of the plaster walls all combine to give the spaces a neutral feel that’s enlivened by the presence of children, their clothes, and their toys, which, scattered around or hung on coat hangers, enliven the classrooms and corridors with colorful accents.


Location: Billom, France
Architects: Rue Royale Architectes
Build up area: 1989 m2
Year: 2022

Photography by  Vladimir De Mollerat du Jeu courtesy of Rue Royale Architectes

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