LCR Architectes clads French middle school with tarnished copper

LCR Architectes clads French middle school with tarnished copper panels

French studio LCR Architectes used gently patinated copper to give the exterior surfaces of this school near Toulouse a weathered, metallic appearance (+ slideshow).

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

The middle school is located in the town of Labarthe-sur-Lèze, south of Toulouse, and was designed by local firm LCR Architectes to accommodate up to 600 pupils.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

Its facades incorporate strips of glazing surrounded by patinated copper, with a brown tone intended to reference the ploughed earth of the nearby agricultural land.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

"The copper, a material that is natural and alive, serves the intention of giving the building a skin with a patina that will smooth with the age while also reinforcing the value of sustainability," stated the architects.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

The building's position and orientation on the site were determined by roads that flank it on two sides, resulting in a staggered series of rectangular volumes arranged along a central spine that runs parallel to the main access road.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

"We tried to imagine the scale of the future equipment and to position it as a public building within a problematic empty space," the architects said.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

A concrete path aligned perpendicular to this spine leads to the building's entrance and continues through the reception to the other side, where it joins a large courtyard.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

The entrance is positioned below the cantilevered upper storey of one of the protruding copper boxes facing the street.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

Glass walls on either side of the lobby allow for views straight through to the courtyard behind, while the rest of the glazing set into the facades of the copper boxes looks out onto grassy courtyards.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

To one side of the entrance is a bike park with a canopy supported by tree-like metal structures.

On the opposite side of the lobby, an aluminium structure covered by a translucent vaulted shelter projects over the concrete strip as it leads toward the courtyard and the playing fields beyond.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

Separate accommodation units positioned close to the playing fields have a more monolithic appearance with fewer windows to enhance their sense of privacy.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

These buildings are also clad in copper panels and feature sliding shutters that can be closed to create entirely sealed surfaces.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

Copper surfaces continue inside the school building, where polished sheets with a more orange tone are applied to the walls of corridors and communal areas.

These surfaces reflect daylight entering through full-height windows and contrast with the dark ceiling panels and columns.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes

Photography is by Sylvain Mille.

Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes
Site plan – click for larger image
Public middle school of Labarthe-sur-Lèze by LCR Architectes
Floor plans – click for larger image