Orteaux - Avenier Cornejo Architectes
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Avenier Cornejo Architectes

21 October 2015

A child-care center is one of the fi rst spaces that a child discovers outside the family unit, it must be able to provide an atmosphere and ambiance which both reassures and helps them grow. In effect, the child-care center has a dual mission: to protect and to expose a child to the outside world. In addition to these challenges there are urban constraints: the child-care center is located in the middle of the Fréquel Fontarabie zone, an ecological area in the heart of Paris, and at the intersection of a public thoroughfare and a public square. Therefore, it will infl uence the structure of the new identity of the central space, the garden and the plot. To satisfy regulatory planning requirements and the urban program, we chose to distribute the volume of the child-care center on two floors, with maximum respect for the neighboring courtyards and orientating the reception area towards the sunny façade. In order to keep the required distance of twelve meters from the adjacent building and to allow for a North / South orientation, we chose to locate the director's apartment on the 2nd and 3rd floors. It's accessed by an independent staircase and by the same elevator from the child-care center. The main entrance of the child-care center is found on the North side of the building, facing the public square, while elevator is placed near this entrance. Rooms requiring access to delivery services are placed along the hallway, which is in the middle of the building and absorbs irregular angles. Because the building is long, a courtyard is necessary in order to bring natural light into the service rooms. The courtyard also has a role in temperature regulation, especially in the summer.
For acoustic and thermal reasons, the structure of the building is made in concrete, lined with insulation and a metal cladding. This wall of perforated steel creates different lighting effects. It works like a sieve to create spaces of rest and privacy. The garden and terraces are widely accessible through large openings.
The garden at the end of the plot is composed of a central maple tree and shrubs that grow on sloping land, which leads to a public exit.
Extract of « A meeting with Christelle Avenier & Miguel Cornejo. Paris, Jean Christophe Masson and Nicolas Ziesel for "French Touch" » "Early childhood is a key stage of human development. You could also say that building one’s fi rst public building is an important step in an architect’s career. When we thought about building a child-care centre, we immediately start thinking about certain concepts: games, scale, awakening, parent-child relationships and the role that French society today grants architects in this pursuit. This is because, paradoxically, these places that should be all about discovery and freedom are often just overprotective environments produced by a series of exaggerated, hyper-hygienic standards. Yet we all think of and see projects from other countries (Japan, Spain, etc.) that overfl ow with playful and libertarian ideas and don’t seem limited by the same rules and constraints. So with this project we tried to have both sides, the securities regulation and the freedom we believe in.
We also attempted to value calm and serenity over showmanship so tried to prioritize a humble architectural solution with high qualities of ecological construction and living light.
So the challenge was to place an abstract and diaphanous mass into the atypical shape of a triangular lot, while integrating it into the urban and regulatory complexities of the city. Fortunately we also benefi ted from the client's supports and confi dence, which was helpful during negotiations with the riverside residents to build a “patio” and plan for the dividing wall. Thus we adapted certain outlines of the project to meet the new constraints. The multiple volumetric models demonstrate the evolution of the project.
The main structure, exterior insulation, heated fl ooring, thoroughly studied natural ventilation (notably created by building the patio on the eastern façade), fl agstone overhangs, interior and exterior blinds and the green roof are all simple and logical elements that will make this public facility a solid environmental performance (without being over complicated).
Above all, one of the most important elements for us was the way the delicate integration of the lace design that “envelopes” the entire facade was created. The motif, at fi rst designed using illustrator software, was created in the spirit of childhood. Built from punched-out panels of lacquered steel sheets, it both unifi es and protects the structure. The design of multiple embossed perforations piece together a floral motif.
'They thus form the sensitive skin of the building that reacts to changes in lighting. The challenge of the motif was to make it so that the repetition was not obvious and only full-scale prototypes would make it possible to correct the calculations made by the computer. The interest here is in the low-tech approach used with standard business profi les and the factory-built series that, in the end, would be both elegant and aesthetically light.'

Avenier Cornejo Architectes - Christelle Avenier and Miguel Cornejo (born in Chile) founded their fi rm in Paris in 2008, after fi nishing their studies at the École supérieure de Paris Malaquais.
They were selected as one of the "Europe 40 under 40" 2014 architecture fi rms, which awards emerging young architects. They were also nominated for the 2015 Mies van der Rohe Award and the French award "Équerre d'argent" 2014 for the project "Les Lilas".
In the wake of this, Avenier Cornejo is in the design phase on various projects: housing, sheltered accommodation, children’s facilities, and medical installations; and in the construction phase on several other projects in Paris.
The fi rm’s approach is above all inventive. Each project gives rise to a process of refl ection, each expectation has several possible answers but, whatever the architectural desire, the goal is to bring about a fertile reaction.
“We want to take the time to design and build with pleasure, so as to ensure quality. Experience confronts us with constraints: the better we grasp them the better we can master them, so as to design freely.”

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