The city of Liège in Belgium decided, in 2016, to organise a competition for the construction of a nursery on the neigbourghood of Sainte Walburge. The site reconstructs the corner of the street and the Place Sainte-Walburge formerly occupied by a petrol station.
Studio Name: Ledroit Pierret Polet Architectes
Design Team: Anne Ledroit, Vincent Pierret, Julien Sabatier, Benoit Adam
Area: 802 sqm
Location: Liège, Belgium
Consultants: Pigeon Ochej paysage (landscaping) / Bureau Greisch (structural and building services engineering) / Neo&Ides (Energy performance) / Modalyse (acoustic engineering) / Imhotep (Health and safety coordinator)
Photography Credits: Stijn Bollaert and Vincent Pierret
Each façade of the building has a very different architectural vocabulary, but forms an easily identifiable whole. The blind gable decorated with red brick play marks the identity on the church square.
A cascade of white terraces in a playful triangle projects the children’s sections onto the public space while offering them natural protection.
And finally, a curtain wall reflects the building’s circulation in the city, allowing the organisation to be read unobtrusively.
In addition to its voluntary expression, the nursery integrates itself thanks to the dimensions and materials of its environment. The staff terrace takes up the height of the adjoining house and articulates the difference in size. The connection with the sports centre is made in the natural alignment of the existing building. The use of dark red brick refers to the existing buildings on the square. The vertical rhythm of the curtain wall is largely inspired by the rhythm of the facades of the semi-detached houses on Rue Sainte-Walburge.
The distribution has been the subject of a precise sequencing. The concrete cap marks the entrance through the courtyard, a real gateway between the city and this protected area. Once inside, two straight concrete staircases follow each other to reach the upper floors. Spectacular and rational, they allow an efficient ascent while enjoying the view of the neighbourhood. From this circulation, recessed changing areas allow access to the different sections. A second, external circulation links the different levels. metallic, exuberant and unexpected. It is the counterpoint to the first.
A garden takes place on the ground floor and is planted with colourful and fragrant flowerbeds. Terraces, in extension of the sections, allow an easy access for part or all of the children group. This ground level contact with an outdoor space is one of the starting points of the proposal. Stairs connect the terraces. They are closed by small gates and can be used as a short circuit between the sections in good weather. The terraces also play a role in climate control by protecting the glazing of the sections from the sun.
The scale of the spaces is worked out according to the specific needs of the children. The secondary spaces are treated with the same care as the more noble spaces. Particular attention is paid to natural and artificial light. Blinds are used to conceal the night spaces and protect the sections. All living areas are naturally lit. The children’s rooms are equipped with “soft light” lighting devices that protect the eyes of the very young from glare.
The Ledroit Pierret Polet Architects Office was created in 1997. Their works have been exhibited since 2000 (‘Supernova’ Exhibition) and have been awarded numerous prizes.
In 2005, the publication of the Book “Style and Necessity”, published by A16, highlights their first projects. It marks a turning point by proposing a reflection on their production. A production that is based on the analysis of the social, programmatic and stylistic context.
This context gives rise to projects that are both anchored and autonomous, sensitive and assertive. Projects inhabited by the pleasure of spatiality, the attention to detail and the attention to materiality, without any complex of the decorative.
The desire to place life at the centre of architecture leads the office to a meticulous reflection on the experimentation of space by the user, transcending questions of functionality and use to create unique and often polysemic and modular spaces.
The office has demonstrated its ability to replicate this meticulous design work at different scales and on different programs.