In the 1960s, the Jean Moulin High School in Revin, France was artfully tucked into the town’s grass-covered hills. However, over the years, the old building began to fall apart due to neglect and severe weather. When the town decided to renovate the damaged structure they called upon Duncan Lewis Scape Architecture, who retained the school’s strong connection to nature with a series of tiered “forest balconies.”
Although officials were open to various ideas for a new building, they were adamant that the design retain the strong symbiotic relationship between the manmade structure and its natural environment. However, the state of the original building was so bad that renovating the complex would have been a massive operation, especially considering the asbestos that was used in its construction. Accordingly, the project began by demolishing and rebuilding the entire complex, all while trying to maintain minimal impact on school activities.
The volume of the school is divided into lateral rows made up of low-rise terraces that are gradually stepped into the mountain’s natural topography, covered in a dense vegetation of tall trees, bushes and ‘rock chaos’. Built onto the mountain bedrock, the building’s layout stretches out to the crest of the plateau, which overlooks the river below.
The classrooms are located below the green terraced “strips” and, thanks to strategic orientation and an abundance of windows, have tons of natural light as well as beautiful panoramic views of the green valley below. The lowest part of the complex has a sports area with a running track, a smart gym, and indoor basketball, volleyball and handball court.
On the interior, the school’s “Agora” also follows the natural slope of the site, with ramps on either side that lead to the classrooms and workshops. “La Place” is a community area used for breaks and recreation. According to the architects, the school’s “panoptical” design not connects it to its surroundings, but also serves as a strategic measure to help monitor the student body more efficiently.
Images via Duncan Lewis, Matthieu Tregoat, and Cyrille Weiner