A gigantic yellow giraffe pokes its heads out from the roof of this nursery and childcare centre in Paris by French studio Hondelatte Laporte Architectes (+ slideshow).
The larger-than-life statue appears to act as a supporting column, as its body pushes up through a cantilevered upper storey so that only legs, a long neck and a head can be spotted by passers-by.
"The idea is to animate the urban landscape by using a child's imagination," explains Hondelatte Laporte Architectes.
The aptly named Giraffe Childcare Centre accommodates a 60-bed childcare facility and a nursery for up to 20 children, in addition to playgrounds on each of its three levels.
As well as the giraffe, the playgrounds feature a white bear and a parade of huge ladybirds, all constructed from concrete. "Through their affable form, the lively animal sculptures invite us to live our dreams," say the architects.
The centre is located beside Jean Nouvel's Horizons offices, in the riverside Boulogne-Billancourt district in the south-west of the city.
The entrance is positioned at the end of the building so that visitors have to walk through the giraffe's legs on their way inside.
The architects used corrugated metal cladding for the whole exterior, creating a series of bright white elevations.
Animal sculptures are a recurring feature in designs for children and we've previously featured a restaurant with a model elephant inside.
Giraffe fans may also enjoy a house with a front door tall enough to let one of the animals, or the giraffe enclosure at Rotterdam Zoo.
Photography is by Philippe Ruault.
Here's some project details from the architects:
The Giraffe childcare centre is located in the C1 block of the Seguin Rives de Seine district in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburban area of Paris. The program houses a 60 bed childcare centre and 20 bed day nursery. The building has been awarded the green "zéro Energie Effinergie" label. This public building is located next to Jean Nouvel's "Horizons" tower, at the junction between the "Vieux pont de Sèvres" neighbourhood, built in the 70s, and the new area called "le Trapèze". The high density of this area gives it a rugged skyline. To be integrated into this particular urban landscape, the building is composed of three tiers. Each of the south-facing playgrounds is in continuity with the interior spaces and is identified by a unique concrete animal sculpture. Viewed from the surrounding towers, the regular sequence of terraces offers a real "fifth facade" to the neighbourhood.
The facades of the building are made out of white corrugated iron that provides a minimal background to the wild animal sculptures. The idea is to animate the urban landscape by using a child's imagination. The wild animals appropriate the space; a giraffe appears to be peacefully eating the leaves of the trees from the neighbouring park, a polar bear tries to clamber up the steps, while a family of ladybirds climbs the façade in an attempt to reach the interior patio.
Architecture turns into storytelling. The building changes its identity and becomes a landscape in its own right, a metaphor for the urban jungle. The animals and the trees link the building to nature and motion. The giraffe has become a banner for the nursery since it is visible in the surrounding area from all angles. We walk through its legs to enter the building. Through their affable form, the lively animal sculptures invite us to live our dreams. These playful and dreamlike sculptures introduce a little bit of fantasy into the routine life of the town in order to inspire our lives with a bit of poetry.
Project name: Giraffe childcare centre
Architect(s): Hondelatte Laporte Architectes
Project manager: Virginie Davo
Project team: Charlotte Fagart (architect)
HEQ Engineering: GCB Gestion Conseil Bâtiment
Client: SAEM Val de Seine Aménagement
Program: 60 bed childcare centre and 20 bed day nursery.
Lieu/Location: Boulogne-Billancourt (92) - France
Competition: January 2009
Area: 1450 sq m
Cost: 3 744 000€ HT
Construction companies): SPIE SCGPM (general contractor), AAB (animals sculpture)
Above: site plan - click above for larger image
Above: ground floor plan - click above for larger image
Above: first floor plan - click above for larger image
Above: second floor plan - click above for larger image
Above: roof plan - click above for larger image
Above: side elevation - click above for larger image
Above: front elevation - click above for larger image
Above: side elevation - click above for larger image
Above: rear elevation - click above for larger image
Above: long sectional elevation - click above for larger image
Above: cross sectional elevation - click above for larger image
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