The Docks School by Mikou Design Studio


Paris architects Mikou Design Studio have won a competition to design a zero-energy school and sports complex for Saint Ouen in France.

Called The Docks School, the building is arranged in tiers that slant diagonally across the building to form wide triangular terraces.

All classrooms face southwards and open onto internal courtyards, sheltered by three canopies of photovoltaic panels.

Construction is expected in 2012.

dzn_Zero Energy School in Saint Ouen by Mikou 11

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More about Mikou Design Studio on Dezeen:

Bailly School Complex in Paris (January 2010)
Théatre le Bateau Feu for Dunkerque (December 2009)

Here's some more information from Mikou Design Studio:


Zero Energy School and Sports Complex, Saint Ouen - France

A school between playgrounds and gardens

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The Docks school in Saint Ouen is in a strategic urban location, in the middle of the Zac des Docks mixed development area, which an exemplary case of sustainable urban development. Located in the middle of an urban complex composed mainly of high-rise office blocks and housing, it will also be visible because of its roof, a fundamental feature of the project onto which the openings of neighbouring buildings face.

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We designed this amenity to consume zero energy in order to be emblematic of the sustainable development of the Zac des Docks project and to be a strong architectural landmark in its neighbourhood, which is exemplary by its choice of siting, by the interior comfort provided for the children – particularly in the design of the school playgrounds and gardens – and by the treatment of the areas of photovoltaic panels, which are integrated into the architecture and are visible from the main street, giving the school a strong educational identity.

The building’s siting facilitated south-facing orientation of all the classrooms and playgrounds in order to make the greatest possible use of passive solar energy. This spatial disposition also made it possible to increase the surface areas on the south required for the photovoltaic panels which were integrated into the architecture of the covered playground areas. Therefore the scheme is in the form of a mass built in stepped tiers on the east, on the main street, which is extended by large canopies and which folds in crosswise strips on the site’s diagonal to face southwards.

These stepped crosswise strips are separated by internal gardens which open wide east-west transparent views into the school while allowing clear identification of the various teaching areas open to the light and to the peace and quiet on sheltered internal patios. Facing southwards, the school is arranged in a succession of gardens and volumes in brightly-lit terraces which gradually descend to free the view and to let in maximum sunshine.

These stepped volumes include the following:

The primary school, which is arranged in a strip from the ground floor to the second upper floor, connected to its playground by timber-decked walkways which look down onto the primary school garden on the ground floor. The nursery school, which is arranged in another strip on the first upper floor, connected to its playground by timber-decked walkways which look down onto the nursery school garden on the ground floor.

The cafeteria, which opens both onto the garden on the ground floor and onto the viewpoint on the new road. The nursery school playground is on the south and west on floor level 1 above the cafeteria, and the primary school playground is on the second upper floor above the nursery school.

The nursery and primary school playgrounds are sheltered by canopies on the south and east on the main street, consisting of glazed photovoltaic panels inclined at 30° and spaced by solid metal strips forming gutters to avoid cast shadows. These covered playground areas designed as large semi-transparent bluish canopies descend in tiers from level 3 to level 1 while creating a visual dynamic when viewed from the street. They shelter the playgrounds from the street by creating a covered buffer space.

dzn_Zero Energy School in Saint Ouen by Mikou 9

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Architect: Mikou Design Studio
Salwa Mikou, Selma Mikou, Cécile Jalby, Iskra Pencheva, Samiel Musolino, Lorenzo Donati, Mickael Courtay
Client: City of Saint-Ouen
Programme: Elementary school, primary school, sports and recreation centre, cafeteria, administration, parking lot 38 places.
Budget: 11 M € HT
Surface: 4 820 m2 Gross Floor Area
Location: ZAC of the Docks in Saint-Ouen
Date: competition 2009, first prize

Posted on Sunday January 31st 2010 at 2:50 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • tim

    looks like a pleasant and great organization of space but why does all zero energy architecture have to look so boring and green?

  • flytoget

    Hmm. Purposeful, responsive, accountable and sustainable vs not boring…. What weighs the most?

  • danny

    good. but seems to turn it’s back on the street, isn’t an urban school a great opportunity to enliven the area? intensive use roofs are very heavy, what’s holding them up? . . . co2 guzzling concrete? also i wonder if the lower classrooms could be a bit dark and dingy, also view of blank wall limits opportunities for vital daydreaming!

  • JoeyDee

    I like this, it’s a noble and pleasing design for the “green” trend.
    I’m wondering about controling excessive amounts of heat.
    Power for the electrical photo cells, and warming up on cold winter
    days can be useful but during the summer the lower levels could be
    hot. I live in the Southern USA and many of our “solar designs” had to be reworked with costly upgrades.

  • Because the project places so much emphasis on interiority, the school can become a fine model for other zero-energy schools in urban areas. I question whether the novel manner of design here – the courtyards and photovoltaic panel systems – would have to be modified if completely surrounded (and shaded) by tall buildings. In reality, the project seems best fit for dense neighborhoods with low structures.

  • charlie chan

    they should start calling these photovoltaic roofing – Blue Roof.
    green roof was so Corbu.

  • booh

    I wanna see the clients faces after they see how badly damaged their buliding is after a terrible storm. I live in the midwest… and building anything like this would be like shooting yourself in the foot because tornado season comes and each one of those 120000 dollar panels will be little kites! Of course! that’s not the case for California. But I’m sure there’s bad weather SOMETIMES…

    • pop

      Well no, not there but that’s a bad design anyway. :D

  • Ich Liebe Es

    Such a good idea.

  • Parisian Architect

    Very ugly. It is indeed very difficult to work in. Perhaps the bad working conditions perspire on the design.

  • polly

    Horrible Design. This “sustainable” gimmick needs to stop!