Is there any better place to learn about biodiversity than in a hands-on environment? That’s the teaching approach taken by the Rosalind Franklin School Complex, a large Ivry-sur-Seine urban building organized into a series of green-roofed terraces. Designed by Chartier Dalix Architectes, the glass-and-metal school and student dormitory features raised beds and a small greenhouse to grow herbs and vegetables.
Developed as one of the first facilities to Ivry-sur-Seine’s urban development zone, the school complex will serve as a major anchor for a developing neighborhood. The 8,650-square-meter school is asymmetrical and features three peninsula-like shapes that jut out towards the south and are flanked by two school playgrounds. The south-facing playgrounds and staggered garden terraces maximize access to daylight.
Full-height windows are installed throughout the building to bring in natural light and provide panoramic views of the urban landscape. In contrast to the relatively low-profile school complex, the student dormitory rises like a towering monolith on the north-end of the site and is carefully placed so as to not block the school’s access to sunlight.
The architects write: “This context offers a teaching opportunity on the subject of biodiversity, mainly thanks to two areas: the teaching garden, designed as a terrace accessible from the common areas on the first floor, provided with large planters for growing herbs and vegetables; the reading room on the mezzanine of the library, with a view over all the terraces.”