«It is important for children to like the Maison de la Petite Enfance, for them to feel comfortable there, free yet safe. It has to be gentle and tender with them, participate in their education, help them find their marks and stimulate their imaginations» – The elected officials of Lieusaint. With the children’s well-being in mind this is how NOMADE Architectes designed and carried out the project. The town of Lieusaint is a community located 35 kilometers to the southeast of Paris in the Seine et Marne département. Serviced by RER line D, it is part of the greater Sénart region. After a competition for the project, NOMADE Architectes was commissioned to design and build this facility that it wanted to make a symbol of developmental for the region. The project responded to Lieusaint’s desire to build a prominent facility for early childhood.
The facility is composed of the following: - a family nursery - a medical entity for monitoring children and check-ups for admission - a rest space for child-minders (RAM) - a multi-reception with a 40-cot capacity - a place for receiving children and parents (LAEP)
The town’s principle brief was to provide a new facility that would enable the following:
- improve the existing reception capacities - bolster municipal and private child-minder networks; this new building has larger surface area and improves the conditions in which municipal child-minders are received as well as the children they care for. The RAM is a space for information and activities for parents, independent child-minders and the children they tend. - strengthen parent-child bonds: the building is a space designed to welcome young children and their parents. It encourages parents to socialize and communicate among themselves and with the early-childhood professionals and to facilitate the children’s meeting and playing together.
ARCHITECTURAL INTEGRATION INTO THE LANDSCAPE
The Maison de la Petite Enfance is located on a space that acts as an interface between houses on one side and the center of Lieusaint on the other. With its use of materials and its location, the building fosters gentle, harmonious incorporation into the larger landscape. It is built on a north-south axis. A neighboring woodland led NOMADE Architectes to preserve and enhance this landscape heritage by creating a dialog between its volumes and the woods. The Maison de l’Enfance is located in the path of a «greenway» that links the center of Lieusaint with new outlying buildings. The entrance plaza to the building opens onto this greenway. A slope rises up from this pedestrian zone to the Maison’s entrance, guiding patrons gently to the front door.
The formalism of the gabled roofs, as required by the local master-plan, becomes an original concept by repeating the same motif in the façade, using ceramic tiles to create a single-material envelope.
AN ARCHITECTURE OF LONG-LASTING, ECOLOGICAL WOOD
The materials used project an image of the building’s sustainability in harmony with the natural environment. Made of wood in its structure and finishings, the project demonstrates genuine commitment to an adapted response thanks to noble and lasting materials. NOMADE Architectes opted for a wooden building system that enabled it to save time in the construction. The roofs are made of flat ceramic tiles that cascade down to the walls, thus creating contemporary archetypes in perfect harmony with the existing neighborhood. By using these materials, the architecture has been able to reposition the building in a fun, contemporary way.
FUNCTIONAL, PRACTICAL AND ADAPTED ORGANIZATION
NOMADE Architectes worked on the quality of the interior atmosphere, basing it on a central concourse punctuated with patios, considerable natural light and controlled hygrothermal surroundings. Used as the building’s backbone, this concourse adapts to the varying moments of the building’s life: - reception time: a friendly space for welcoming the public - activity time: connections with the multiple reception area, the nursery, the shared space, administration and the annexes
With its compact shape, the building is organized functionally.
The building is split into two interconnected parts: The central unifying concourse running north/south The function-based compartments (multiple reception, nursery, shared space and administration) are rather like small houses forming a village around the main road.
According to their use, the spaces gather into different and identifiable entities in the spirit of small, independent houses. These function-based compartments with varying morphologies (due to the heights of the roof beams, the variations created in the façade, etc.) connect to a luminous and landscaped concourse. This concourse is adorned with views to the outside and patios, real activities for the children and staff and makes it possible to control the atmosphere (air intake, light input, etc.). The project takes its appearance from the morphology of the neighboring buildings with the look of a small, friendly village, warm materials and dimensions on a human-scale.
The administration sector is located in the building’s northeast corner and is connected to the entrance hall. This administrative hub houses the offices of the principal, vice-principal and secretary. The principal’s office controls access to the security door and the entrance hall.
The shared space, located on either side of the concourse, is located in close proximity to the administrative area. Its position enables it to work easily with the nearby nursery and the multi-reception area.
The nursery itself, the building’s veritable core, has direct contact with all the project’s programmed entities. It opens eastwards onto the woodland. Its activities room is within the shared space area.
The multi-reception area is located on the plot’s and building’s southern side. It opens onto the gardens, one of which stands between two activity rooms. This area is accessed by a cloakroom area, which optimizes the supervision of the children: - see-through openings with views to the outside have been included all along the main concourse and rooms - the gardens can be accessed from the 4 activity rooms on the opposite side from their entrances - The administration area has views of the Maison’s entrances and exits.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND EDUCATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
In concert with the various parties involved (local officials, the public, municipal technical departments and managers), the main environmental issues of this operation were considered in the following way:
- a building located on a sensitive, enhanced urban venue - a building fully suited to the venue (transportation, landscaped space) - the children’s and staff’s quality of life taken into account by enhancing the building’s acoustic, hygrothermal and visual conditions - low operating costs (low rates and good adaptability for the future)
NOMADE Architects offered construction solutions that made it a sustainable, optimized project in energy-consumption matters:
- the building meets RT 2012 (thermal regulation) standards for low-energy consumption - Interior patios accessible to children and staff instill eco-responsibility in the children - More than simply easing foot traffic and raising the children’s awareness, the patios also control the building’s temperature with air-intake that provides ventilation for all buildings and contributes to the summer comfort of all users - Solutions such as landscaped roofs hallmark the building’s ecological ambitions - 20 sq. m solar panels in the tiles increase user comfort