CLOSE
Vimeo
Vimeo

French Architect Designs Schools That Are Works of Art

Vimeo
Vimeo

At the start of a new school year, elementary school teachers make pilgrimages to art and school supply stores, searching for brightly colored posters and bulletin board decorations that will make their otherwise drab, standard-issue classrooms into a more engaging learning environment. Teachers at the Niki-de-Saint-Phalle school in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, however, won’t have to worry about that kind of thing; their entire learning environment has been professionally designed by architect Paul le Quernec into a multi-hued, modernist educational paradise.

The school in Saint-Denis is a dual-purpose space, used to teach both preschool and elementary-aged students. Le Quernec drew inspiration from the left and right hemispheres of the brain to design the two wings, reasoning that children of different ages learn in different ways. For the younger children, le Quernec designed rooms with soft curves in varying shades of orange, conveying a gentleness of approach while hoping to stimulate creative thought with the warm, bright hue. Older children, whose education requires more structure, sit down to desks in more angular spaces, painted green to foster concentration. The school’s external façade effectively melds the two color schemes, cleverly constructed from painted wood in such a way that the building appears to be orange from some angles and green from others, depending on where the viewer is standing.

Book lovers will especially appreciate le Quernec’s design for the children’s library, painted in soothing white with warm light and plenty of benches and igloo-shaped reading nooks. Rose-hued corridors lead children through the airy entrance hall to the school’s two playgrounds, and light comes from a combination of whimsically shaped floating lamps and the sunlight filtering in through large transparent doors and windows. Even the fire extinguisher has its own purpose-designed space: in a stark white hallway, a bright red nook shaped like a flame denotes where one can find the necessary fire safety equipment.

Despite the deliberate logic evident in every detail of the Niki-de-Saint-Phalle school, le Quernec admits that his reasoning is based less on hard science and more on an artistic sensibility: “My answer will be considered as very pretentious or very irresponsible, but the truth is that I draw these spaces with my intuition and my childhood memory.” It is a style that carries through to his other designs for school buildings, evident in the enormous open reading space of a nursery school library in Illkirch, the quirky cafeteria chairs in an elementary school in Briarres and the multicolor polka-dotted exterior of a school in Montpon.

Le Quernec’s conceptual architecture doesn’t stop there. A nursery in Sarreguemines, designed in collaboration with architect Michel Grasso, bears no small resemblance to a cell of the body. The nursery itself is the nucleus, enclosed by gardens representing the cytoplasm and a surrounding wall as the cell membrane. The red-and-white entrance is explicitly intended to be “vaginal,” with the building’s general curves and non-linearity meant to evoke a sense of uterine comfort in both young children and their parents. Though the design itself may be subtle, le Quernec’s nods to his inspiration are not. If walls could talk, le Quernec’s school buildings would have plenty to say.

[h/t Wired]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
arrow
architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Paul Wegener
arrow
Design
For Sale: The Safest House in America, Complete With Hidden Command Center
Paul Wegener
Paul Wegener

For some people, locking the front door just isn't enough to feel fully safe at home. Maybe they set up a home security system. Maybe they go out and buy a fancy smart home hub with a security camera. Or maybe they spend six years and $30 million to build a veritable fortress mansion, as one guy in Atlanta did. That house, called the Rice House and referred to as one of the safest homes in America, is now up for sale for $14.7 million.

Built by an entrepreneur who hired a security architect with a background designing Justice Department buildings (and his own bunker/house), the Rice House is billed as a "modern fortress" in the real estate listing.

For its owner, creating an impenetrable home was more of a personal challenge than a real security need, according to Bloomberg. But by its features, you'd think it was built for a Bond super-villain or a head of state, not a businessman in a wealthy Atlanta neighborhood.

A secure door with several locks
Paul Wegener

It has its own water and power supply, a 5000-square-foot command center hidden behind a waterfall, a vault, and doors capable of withstanding machine gun fire. There’s an indoor gun range, in case you need some target practice. There’s enough room in the garage for 30 cars, in case you have a few dozen Batmobiles—or you want to invite friends to hunker down with you during the apocalypse.

And since anyone who lives there might be more invested in staying safely inside the gates than going out on the weekends, the place has plenty of amenities that make it a standalone mini-community. It’s got its own art gallery, a gym, a bowling alley, a wine cellar, a home theater, and a pool. It has three kitchens and two commercial elevators, with staff quarters so the servants you inevitably need to cater to you never need to leave, either.

But wait, there’s more. If the house lacks something you want, that’s fine! Because according to the listing, “the property purposefully awaits final personalization.” In other words, for your $14.7 million, it’s not finished.

Check it out here.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios