Palais de l’Alma nursery school, in the heart of the institutions
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Palais de l’Alma nursery school, in the heart of the institutions

Constructed with natural materials, the project is the perfect synthesis between the architectural heritage of the setting and the needs of the little ones

Atelier Régis Roudil Architectes

Palais de l’Alma nursery school, in the heart of the institutions
By Editorial Staff -

The 7th arrondissement of Paris is populated by fine buildings, institutional headquarters, and famous monuments: within this imposing urban fabric, the Palais de l’Alma was recently expanded to include a new building, intended to house an unusual function for the district: a nursey school. Constructed upon the orders of Napoleon III as the site of the imperial stables, the palace is characterized by a rigid and symmetrical structure, organized over three courtyards. The new building, lower and seemingly closed in on itself, houses the preschool, which was moved at the behest of the Presidency of the Republic from its previous location on rue de l’Elysée.

A highly institutional context and an exceptional client: the architects of the Régis Roudil atelier met this challenge with a design that combines the magnificence of the setting with the needs of the young future users of the spaces.

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A prestigious setting

Palais de l’Alma, Régis Roudil architects ©11h45 - Florent Michel, courtesy of Régis Roudil architects

The design of the nursery school is the right synthesis between a contemporary and sustainable architecture, which uses natural and alternative building materials – including rammed earth extracted from excavations and wood – and the surrounding buildings, which characterize the southernmost fronts of the garden. They are imposing and rich with decorations, as is typical of late 19th century architecture. This grandeur conveys the importance of the work carried out within the offices of the Presidency of the Republic.

The respect of the surrounding built heritage and the dialogue with the greenery of the courtyard, which represents a small green lung in the intricate urban texture of the city center, were starting points from which the architects defined the project.

The building has a predominantly horizontal development: the approximately 300-square-meter area is distributed on a single level and sits next to the perimeter wall that delimits the courtyard to the south and west, leaving a small passageway. On the northern side, the connection with the location is achieved through the modulation of greenery: the nursery school garden is placed in direct contact with that of the Palace, reinforcing the link between the two.

The building plan has a rectangular perimeter, while the elevated façades are characterized by an alternation of solids and voids. The long sides of the building open towards the outside through large sliding glass windows and are geometrically punctuated by load-bearing wooden elements, which mark many subtle pilasters on the façade. The short sides on each end of the building are characterized by massive, rammed earth walls, reminiscent of cast-in-place concrete.

Local, natural materials

Palais de l’Alma, Régis Roudil architects ©11h45 - Florent Michel, courtesy of Régis Roudil architects

The interiors, designed to evoke a calm, domestic atmosphere, are organized according to an area of perimeter circulation that encloses the spaces dedicated to the children. Thus, the offices, kitchen, washroom, dormitories, and waking room are located on the perimeter. The load-bearing structure was designed using a punctual structural grid, which allows for a unified interior environment privy of divisions. The custom-designed furnishings favor the use of wood, to give warmth and uniformity to the environment.

The materials used – particularly rammed earth and wood ­– were selected not just for their qualities and sustainability but also to anchor the project to the garden and create resonance between the nature and the architecture. The nursey school establishes an intimate relationship with nature: the materials assume an almost terrestrial significance and create an environment with an alternative vision to traditional building techniques, in which to raise new generations.

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Location: Paris, France
Architects: Atelier Régis Roudil Architectes
Build up area: 308 m2
Year: 2022

Photography by 11h45 - Florent Michel courtesy of Atelier Régis Roudil Architectes

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