Toy library in Bonneuil-sur-Marne by LAN Architecture

Paris-based LAN Architecture have renovated a building on a 1960s social housing estate in Bonneuil-sur-Marne, France, to create a toy library for children.

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The project involved creating a free standing, cast-concrete shell around the existing two-storey building. Update 30/07/08: see interior photos of the project in our new story.

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The following information is from the architects:

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Children Toy Library – Bonneuil-sur-Marne, France
LAN Architecture, Paris.

The Children Toy Library of Bonneuil-sur-Marne is a public building as well as a playing space for children: the project represents the opposition between monumentality and conviviality, a dialogue in the same construction.

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It is located in an area where social housing from the 60’s have a strong physical and social impact. We designed exterior and interior spaces respecting both strategies.

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The building façade, as a shell, is linked with its urban context, translated into its shape, monolithism and strictness. We wanted to create a strong urban symbol, disconnected from its environment and whose shell could protect its core and participate to the regeneration of Bonneuil-sur-Marne social structures.

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Rehabilitate - Renovate
Architecture alteration: towards the shell

The Children Toy library of Bonneuil-sur-Marne was created in a crossed reflection on several axes:

  • Changing destination and utilisation of an existing building
  • Conception of a playing area for children
  • Creation of a public equipment in an unstable area through a small scale project compared to the surrounding buildings
  • Confrontation with a very restricted budget (originally planned for internal arrangements)
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We decided to set up an unscaled and timeless design, a solid mass object, an urban symbol able to separate itself from its environment, that is able, like a shell, to protect its contents; a volume that seemingly always existed, looking-like a bunker or a vernacular construction.

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A new skin for an old body
Our strategy was inspired by a medical logic of intervention. The creation of a supplementary freestanding skin allowed us to control the interface between exterior spaces, building and interior spaces, but also to answer the requirement to create spatial benefits.

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The new facades juxtaposed to the existing building, create the alteration, adding a monumental entrance, a new open courtyard on the first floor, and supplementary surface for administrative spaces, saving the original concrete structure. The shell is a green-tinted raw concrete cast into coffering simulating wood slats.

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The opposition between the hermetic and closed outside and the coloured internal spaces represents another interest of the project. Children play in a sort of cocoon, rich in light variations, rising up over the two levels, in a simple, functional and intimate scale volume.