A translucent skin of wrinkled aluminium covers the walls of this new building for the Strasbourg campus of French architecture school the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture (+ slideshow).
Entitled La Fabrique, which translates as the factory, the building was designed by French architect Marc Mimram to reference the site's industrial past and also create a relationship with the city's existing nineteenth-century architecture.
"The central location presented a rare opportunity for an architecture school to engage in a dialogue between the city and the study of architecture," said Mimram.
"The relationship between structure and envelope has been the foundation of architectural practice since the Gothic age, and since the nineteenth century this has been beautifully expressed through metal structures," he added.
The base of the seven-storey building is glazed, but the rest of the exterior is clad with ridged aluminium mesh. By day, this creates a textured but opaque surface, while at night the entire facade is rendered transparent when lit from inside, revealing a chunky steel structure.
Floors have been grouped into pairs and offset from one another, creating the appearance of a stack of boxes. The lower volumes cantilever outwards but the uppermost block steps back.
Classrooms are located on each of these floors and feature large floor-to-ceiling windows, framing views of the Strasbourg skyline.
"Today, there can be a tendency to enclose, thicken and solidify, to separate ourselves from the environment and the natural elements," said Mimram. "La Fabrique expresses a renewed ambition to resist this trend and to open the building towards the city and the urban skylines."
The 4500-square-metre La Fabrique building is the first phase of a new development for the Strasbourg architecture school. Mimram will also renovate an existing building next door, known as Le Garage.
A new bridge will link the two buildings on the first and second floors. La Fabrique also accommodates a pair of auditoriums, which occupy the basement.
Photography is by Julien Lanoo.
Here's a project description from the design team:
Marc Mimram completes Strasbourg School of Architecture
Marc Mimram, the award winning Paris based architecture and engineering practice, has completed the first phase of Strasbourg School of Architecture (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Strasbourg).
Located in the heart of the city, La Fabrique (The Factory) is a new 4,500m2 building that will be complemented by the refurbishment of the adjoining building, Le Garage, to be completed in December 2014.
The teaching spaces of La Fabrique are projected into the streetscape, encouraging students to engage with the building's context and allowing the city to permeate the ribbed veil of the facade.
The transparent plinth gives the feeling that a gravitational force has pulled the building upwards leaving it to rest on stiletto heels, allowing the city in underneath.
The building's massing consists of two-storey blocks stacked on top of each other. The lower block cantilevers over the transparent, ground floor plinth, while the uppermost block steps back, providing the maximum volume within the constraints set by the planning regulations.
The blocks are unified by the common envelope, a semi-transparent aluminium skin that cloaks the glazed boxes.
A metal curtain glides between large bay windows to frame views across the city, its homes and its cathedral. By day, the building reflects the changing light as the sun moves around the facade; by night, inside and outside are reversed, revealing the building’s skeleton and morphing between transparent and opaque.
The new school was above all designed as a tool for its students, a means to experience the study of architecture and to provide shared spaces in which to interact, collaborate and discover.
The building's name, La Fabrique, refers to the history of the site, but also echoes the study of architecture: the construction of knowledge and the knowledge of construction.
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