Medico-social establishment (“Maison d’Accueil Spécialisé” – MAS) is a home for dependent, elderly people and functions as a nursing home in Orbec. It is built over an area of 5833 sq. m. with a capacity of around 115 beds. Located in the heart of Strasbourg, Dominique Coulon & Associés Architectes is an architecture firm widely known for the quality of their public facility designs for more than 25 years now. The range of their expertise is a wide spectrum including a media library, music school, auditorium, school complex, swimming pool, sports facilities, a residential home for the dependent elderly, and housing.

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MAS_Dominique Coulon & associés

Design (planning, design solutions, design philosophy)

The core theme of the firm and work ethics is the indulgence of spatial quality and natural light in every project. Therefore in this project, they have allowed the context and their intuition to carry the philosophy forward. The building follows the sloping curve of the hillside making it visible from a distance. They sought to develop an entity that justifies the context while combining contrast and complexity. For the exterior façade, they displayed inner richness with their envelope.

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MAS_Dominique Coulon & associés

Another striking feature of their design planning is the geometry; every space is controlled by clean geometry and precise neatness. The entity blends into the topography and landscape of the surrounding areas i.e. Normandy bocage near the village of Orbec. The structure mixes well with the landscape and preserves and accentuates it all together.

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MAS_Dominique Coulon & associés

The building has been made in different parts to avoid the imposing effect of a single entity. The roof integrates the whole building into one and the whole meadowland extends onto it that binds it well. From the extended view of the road, the juxtaposition of the building hints at the voids of the inner garden and the joint terrace’s connection with the landscape.

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MAS_Dominique Coulon & associés

The functional-use program is divided into two zones. The lower zone consists of an inner garden, administration, staff premises, and public reception areas with well-laid transition between public and private areas. Forty residential rooms, common living areas, and treatment stations are concerted in the upper zone with an extended view of the landscape.

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Concept Programme_Dominique Coulon & associés
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GFP1_Dominique Coulon & associés

On the upper floor, the functional zones collide throughout the day and so the architects designed dimensioned transitional areas for the traffic. Natural light is used abundantly to light the entity due to the presence of many colorful patios. These patios also act as guidelines for the residents to move to and fro in the building.

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MAF Rooms_Dominique Coulon & associés
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GFP2_Dominique Coulon & associés
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FFP_Dominique Coulon & associés
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Transitional spaces_Dominique Coulon & associés
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Corridors and natural lighting_Dominique Coulon & associés

Looking into the rooms of the building, are organized simply and pragmatically around the circumference of the building with the inner garden as their core. They are kept open on two sides allowing natural light and air currents to seep in through the patios keeping the rooms well-lit and cool during the summers. 

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Corridors and natural lighting_Dominique Coulon & associés

Connected by corridors from a door and to nature through all the other openings; each room secludes itself from the building forming a personal space, a home for the residents. 

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MAF_Dominique Coulon & associés

The central space consists of a dining room, treatment stations, activity rooms, and the Balneotherapy area. The spaces open onto a sweeping terrace where users can ponder over the landscape or use the ramp to the gardens for a sensual treat; the heart of the building indeed. Nature has been used in and out of the whole structure; filters the light, transmits it uniformly and maintains the perfect ambiance of the building.       

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MAF_Dominique Coulon & associés

Materials/ Construction (special or innovative construction techniques or materials)

The major materials involved in the construction of this retirement home are concrete and wood. The structure hired concrete to construct the elements like the walls, foundation, outer and inner envelope, rooms, etc. Wood has been hired for the fenestrations and doors. The context proposed a challenge for the architects was to create such a building amidst a hilly meadow that would barge in the harmonious surrounding so to overcome this, the architects divided the building up into parts to not let it impose the visual foreground. 

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Materials_Dominique Coulon & associés
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MAF_Dominique Coulon & associés

They also picked a color theme that would contribute to the cause i.e. green to blend the building with the larger landscape and also display the rural nature of the site. White was used on the under-faces of the overhangs and the walls to induce a feeling of lightness and instigate calmness. Red color has been used in the interior to balance out the calmness by its dynamic impact.

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Dynamic interiors_Dominique Coulon & associés
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Dynamic interiors_Dominique Coulon & associés

The living units come under one section of the building; all are connected to a street on the south side, backed by a hill. The placement of the units gives views through the building from one face to the other, with light interspersing the transition routes and achieving maximum variation. 

Sustainability

The building has been designed to accentuate the living and healing experience of the structure while keeping the surroundings in mind. The relationship between the surrounding landscapes, the people, healing, and sustainability has been well-strengthened through the design and concept. Keeping sustainability in mind, the form and the materials have been carefully picked to serve a long life and grow naturally out of the landscape. The natural contours of the land and ample natural lighting have been used to not disturb the biome of the site that could have caused a wreck shortly. 

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Contour mapping on site_Dominique Coulon & associés
MAF panoramic landscape_Dominique Coulon & associés

Conclusion

The entity succeeds in providing its name worth for the national and international users and stands on its concept ideology; to not let the conventional approach bore you into a monotonous environment. Over the years, the design shall multiply in its impact on the lives of the people of Orbec in a positive way.

Reference List:

Dominique Coulon & Associés

Available at https://coulon-architecte.fr/en/projet/577/orbec

Nursing home for heavy disabled persons

Available at https://www.archilovers.com/projects/71996/nursing-home-for-heavy-disabled-persons.html 

[12 Nov, 2012]

DAVID ROMERO-UZEDA. HOME FOR DEPENDENT ELDERLY PEOPLE AND NURSING HOME IN ORBEC

Available at https://divisare.com/projects/324950-dominique-coulon-associes-eugeni-pons-david-romero-uzeda-home-for-dependent-elderly-people-and-nursing-home-in-orbec [Aug 31, 2016]

Mattaincourt / Dominique Coulon & Associés

Available at https://www.archdaily.com/393681/mattaincourt-dominique-coulon-and-associes-architectes 

Author

Chaos within, Beauty Beyond. She is a compulsive person who obsesses over everything, every detail she finds beautiful! She aspires to make beautiful, functional & thoughtful works to play her part well. She’s not just a human being, she is art with a keen eye for aesthetics; She bleeds through art/words.

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