French architecture firm PAN Architecture just unveiled a low-cost prefabricated addition to Marseille’s Architecture School that is clad in vertical metal strips and corrugated iron. These particular materials were chosen to reference the colors of the site's soil, pines and surrounding plant life. The perforated canopy shelters a sort of indoor street, which branches out towards the other buildings on campus and allows for horizontal growth of the new extension.
The extension references the existing buildings and covered bridges on campus, designed in the 1960s by architect René Egger. It sits on a prominent north-facing hill top and takes organizational and visual cues from the surrounding buildings linked by steps and covered galleries.
PAN Architects’ addition is part of the continuity of the architectural landscape and stands on a high platform to take full advantage of the promontory’s exceptional location. It retains the box-like volume in which it houses three ground-level workshop spaces connected by a gallery space that runs along the southern façade and reinterprets the campus’ passageways. Wooden beams, concrete stairway, local dry stone walls and paving-stone embankments are among the elements that help the building enter into a dialogue with its surroundings. These reference the color and materiality of the landscape.
The canopy is made from a natural chestnut-rush fence (a device borrowed from farming) set into the galvanized steel frame. Thanks to using an industrial system to connect the self-supporting façade and roofing, a space of 11.25 meters could be formed within the main volume without having to introduce any intermediary supporting points. The façades are wood and metal sandwich panels installed by slotting and insulated from the outside. The entire building took just a few days to construct and a total of five months to be fitted out by all building trades.