France – OPUS 5 Architectes has transformed a former ecumenical center in Saint- Quentin en Yvelines into the new Élancourt Music School. “We wanted to transform the building’s austere appearance into something more appealing to a younger public,” explained the architects to Archipanic.
The original building was designed to embody the qualities of simplicity, modularity and anonymity. The simple, without ornament and inward-looking architecture aimed to create peace and quiet.
The new music school was instead designed to become a vibrant meeting venue and a focal point of cultural life at the centre of the Sept Mares neighbourhood. “The new Élancourt Music School brings a warmer and whole new atmosphere we achieved thanks to the use of light wood bringing brightness and fulfilling all the acoustic requirements.”
Concrete and brick are the two materials present throughout the school. OPUS 5 Architectes chose to seamlessly clad all the façades entirely with new bricks, treating the walls as mashrabiya, a typical lattice-worked architectural element found in Arabic redicendes, in front of the windows.
The solution counterbalances the complexity of the volumes through the complete material unity of the envelop. The hand-molded bricks are laid with a mortarless technique. Nuances of color enliven and modulate this continuous skin.
At night, the shimmering interior lighting system expresses the softness and serenity of this institution of learning and practice. Blue roofs visible to all the surrounding taller apartment houses are treated as a deep blue synthetic lawn, evoking the blue note, immediately signaling the identity of the facility and forming a patch of color in the center of the esplanade.
Inside, light wells flood the interior spaces with a soft natural light, balancing the natural light penetrating through the mashrabiya and endowing each room with a greater feeling of privacy. The fluidity of circulations, quality of volumes, light and materials play a key role in bringing the original architecture closer to its young inhabitants.
“Restraint and interiority characterize this repurposing project, which does not seek to stand out, but rather to lightly restore its place in the center of the town, to endow it with greater and lasting dignity and to kindle desire and curiosity, encouraging people toenter.” Comment at OPUS 5 Architectes.
All photos by © Luc Boegly – courtesy of OPUS 5 Architectes.
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