The southerly outpost of Paris’s École Camondo is set on the coast of the French Riviera and features a pared-back open-plan interior meant to reflect “how design and sustainability intersect”.
Its sparse 2,000-square-metre floor plan is interrupted by a series of boxy storage units where students keep all their equipment.
Each one is made of marine plywood offcuts that Emilieu Studio found in a nearby factory, selecting the material for its lightweight, hardwearing and water-resistant qualities.
Decorative artist Pierre-Yves Morel was enlisted to paint the surfaces of the units to resemble different types of marble and rock that are local to Toulon.
“We had two difficulties with adornment: aesthetics could not come across functionality and we had to showcase the wonderful raw materials of Provence without extraction,” explained the studio. “Our only room for manoeuvre was surface, so we dared to rehabilitate faux.”
Otherwise, the decor was kept to a minimum save for a few blown-up maps of Toulon that the studio mounted on walls and moveable partitions.
“They allow a better understanding of the territory and encourage collaborative projects by being fully annotatable and magnetic,” Emilieu Studio explained.
Marine plywood was also used to create several wheeled plinths that, with some extensions, can be transformed into mobile trolleys, whiteboards or work tables.
The plinths also form the basis of the school’s modular sofas, which are finished with chunky cushions upholstered in old boat sails from the harbour in nearby Marseille. These can be removed and stacked to create seating in other pockets of the room.
The only fixed elements of the school’s interior are the stainless steel units that make up the kitchen area, as these had to be linked to the building’s plumbing system.
There’s also a colour-coded bin station with built-in weighing scales so that students can manage their waste output and organise it for use in future projects.
More traditional desks with glossy white countertops were also dotted around the space.
Other projects in the running include the world’s first multi-storey skatepark in Folkestone and Stanbridge Mill Library by Crawshaw Architects, which occupies a former cow shed.
The photography is by Antoine Huot.
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