Giraffe Childcare Centre by
Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

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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).

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

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.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

"The idea is to animate the urban landscape by using a child's imagination," explains Hondelatte Laporte Architectes.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by 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.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

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.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

The centre is located beside Jean Nouvel's Horizons offices, in the riverside Boulogne-Billancourt district in the south-west of the city.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

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.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

The architects used corrugated metal cladding for the whole exterior, creating a series of bright white elevations.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Animal sculptures are a recurring feature in designs for children and we've previously featured a restaurant with a model elephant inside.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

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.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Photography is by Philippe Ruault.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

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.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

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.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

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.

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Project name: Giraffe childcare centre
Architect(s): Hondelatte Laporte Architectes
Project manager: Virginie Davo
Project team: Charlotte Fagart (architect)
Engineering: Studetech
HEQ Engineering: GCB Gestion Conseil Bâtiment

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

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
Delivery: 2012
Area: 1450 sq m
Cost: 3 744 000€ HT
Construction companies): SPIE SCGPM (general contractor), AAB (animals sculpture)

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: site plan - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: ground floor plan - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: first floor plan - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: second floor plan - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: roof  plan - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: side elevation - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: front elevation - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: side elevation - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: rear elevation - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: long sectional elevation - click above for larger image

Giraffe Childcare Centre by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes

Above: cross sectional elevation - click above for larger image

  • http://jnkmdesign.com Josh

    Ummm YES! This is exactly what people need to do. Talk about addressing client needs and wants.

  • alex

    I hope one day commercial offices will look like this.

  • Jenny

    If you don't love this you need your head checked; as per Josh, right for the client, plus an an injection of joy into the day of anyone else who passes it by.
    Fun, but not silly; who says the French are no fun?!
    More please!

  • stefan

    Nice. Anyway, better than Nouvel’s “cake”.

    Btw, this is Boulogne Billancourt, not Paris. Check the project credits, it’s written right there.

    • Janet Dorey

      You need to check a map of Paris and look for Boulogne Billancourt – it’s served by the Paris metro!

    • Nick

      True. It really does take the cake.

  • Munchman

    Absolutely love this!

  • firstkitten

    Fun, fun, fun. And I like the drawings.

  • vincent

    Excuse me for my childish taste. But I think this is just totally awesomely genius.

  • Fung

    I can not tell from the photos above whether the giraffe is actually present INSIDE the building. Is it?

    • http://www.dezeen.com Dezeen

      Hi Fung.

      No it isn’t, it actually pushes up through the top floor playground rather than through a room, but its body is hidden behind the parapet wall.

      Amy/Dezeen

  • urB

    I am not sure if the girafe is enough to forget how boring the rest is: white, square, little windows.

  • http://www.LocaLHomeSpot.com Evelyn M

    The white cube that surrounds the giraffe is not meant to be anything more then a perfectly balanced harmonic contrast to the giraffe. To fuss up the rest of the building would take away from the whimsy of the giraffe. Children will get this as they are far better at filling in the blanks with their uncluttered minds. I only wish more adults would “decorate” like this. Allowing feature items to shine, instead of surrounding beautiful items with masses of your clutter.

  • cubert

    Please guys, be smart. It’s not the right scale. A giraffe is tall but not so tall. For the next time you should use a diplodocus.

  • arrrr

    I would love to see a detailed section of the giraffe!

  • alex

    “Copy-modify-paste” of “Restaurant Germain Paris”.

    http://www.journal-du-design.fr/index.php/design/

    • george

      Yeah, it’s an India Mahdavi rip-off.

  • Greg

    I love the whimsy and personality the giraffe offers. I did check the other referenced website with the yellow woman, which is similar, but inside not outside and as visible.

    Check out the blue bear, oversized and exterior installation from Denver Colorado Convention Center.
    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Denver+blue+b

    All nice design solutions.

    • Scary Bear

      Yeah, I love that blue bear. Nice to see something fun for a change, thanks.

  • Scary Bear

    Enough already said about the giraffe; has anyone else noticed that there is a caged white bear in there too?

  • soso

    l love oversized things like this.

  • nonono

    As funny as the giraffe Madahvi copy cat is, it’s rather sad to see that there was no money left then to design furniture for the kindergarden (!). Inside, the kindergarden looks just sad and same old same old.

    Better money management would have had come up with an interior and exterior concept. And by the way, the giraffe is nice but new and creative toys and furniture would have been a lot more useful for those kids!