A school in France is showing the world how to use eco-friendly design to create much more than buildings. The Jules Ferry School will be part of an entire youth center that is designed to create a learning environment where children help to create their own academic experiences.

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aerial rendering of large, solar-powered school building

What is architecture? To Méandre etc’ architects, architecture is an invitation to examine social relationships. That was the concept the team brought to the Jules Ferry School, where everyone has a role in their own learning journey.

Related: Modular Tree-House School concept connects kids with nature

rendering of kids on a school playground

The school is at the historic Bois du Mont Guichet in a residential area of Montfermeil. Jules Ferry School will have 13 classrooms and a recreation center. The school is close to a sports field and several other schools, creating a youth center right in the heart of the neighborhood. The building will be oriented southward to take advantage of the natural light and heat from the sun. Children enter the building through a beveled entrance that creates a transition between the outside world and the learning environment within.

rendering of school hallway with hooks for bookbags and coats

There will be a nursery school on the ground floor, with four classrooms for the little ones. Older children will be on the upper levels. A library and a local market will be housed on the first floor. The library has its own independent entrance, so it can be enjoyed by the general public as well as the children in the school. Each classroom on the ground floor will be a stand-alone unit with its own facilities and direct access to the garden outside, which opens up to the schoolyard itself. The courtyard is designed with geometric forms to create a playful, fun area for the children to enjoy.

rendering of kids playing near massive tree in a school courtyard

On the roof will be a large solar array to provide clean energy for the school. The building itself will be constructed with geo- and bio-sourced materials. The plan is to create a passive, unheated building using eco-friendly materials, including straw, mudbrick and wood.

rendering of kids playing near a school building

The design for the Jules Ferry School has already won an award for its innovation and creative concept. Construction on the project is scheduled to start in early 2021, with plans to open the building in 2022. The school is an example of how design can be part of our world without taking away from it, yet still be tailored to the purpose it is supposed to serve. The Jules Ferry design could be a model that determines what schools look like in the future.

+ Méandre etc’ architects