Paris-based Antonio Virga Architecte has completed the renovation and extension of the Marie Marvingt Nursery School and Crèche in Issy-les-Moulineaux (a commune in the south-western suburban area of Paris). The studio reconfigured and transformed an already existing and tired building, creating a contemporary design with a strong, comprehensive, and enduring identity. The early learning centre comprises a nursery school on its ground and first floor levels and a crèche on its second and third floor levels.
“By rationalising the volumes, plans and façades, we simplified the design of the building as much as possible, while ensuring a better thermal envelope for the whole structure,” says Antonio Virga.
Front facade before:
Front facade after:
A new wood-clad building marks the entrance to the nursery school and crèche and offers a pleasing contrast to the adjacent wing’s white plaster facade. “By means of a simple elevation and a double-sloped roof, the volume of the entrance acts as a landmark for the centre,” says Antonio Virga. The “wood house” works as a natural meeting point and a shared space for all users. “The symbolic figure of the house, clad in wood, allows the architecture to be clearly appropriated by the children, their parents, and the teachers,” says the architect.
In line with the building’s new architecture, its play areas have been entirely refurbished. Antonio Virga developed a new formation by redesigning a previously underused passageway on the original building’s first floor. The concept was one in which a missing link between two courtyards, at ground floor level and on the second floor, could be filled.
Passageway and courtyard before:
Passageway and courtyard after:
“By aligning the passageway with the volume of the day nursery’s nap room on the ground floor, we increased its overall width by a meter, to arrive at a total open width of 2.4 meters,” says the architect. The additional space increases the ways in which children and teachers can use the area. The first floor’s passageway functions as a protective cover for the play area on the ground floor and extends to the toilet block at the rear of the courtyard.
In a similar fashion, to make best use of the first floor’s gallery, Antonio Virga extended the second floor courtyard to the same alignment. This protects the first floor from inclement weather and shields the classrooms from solar radiation. The equitable treatment of the ground floor and first floor ensures greater all-round flexibility of use.
A smooth, light-colored stucco is used on the facades; new frames made in a gold anodized aluminum complement this simple exterior. The wood cladding is constructed from larch with a color saturator — its placement contributes greatly to the building’s refreshed identity.
Entrance hall before:
Entrance hall after:
“The building's volumetric principles have also been implemented in its interior spaces,” says Antonio Virga. “The living spaces have been simplified and their materiality has been toned down.”
The clean, bright, and spacious entrance hall has been stripped of all superfluous architectural elements and now opens onto the street on one side and courtyard on the other. A palette of calming neutral tones are used throughout the building and made-to-measure wooden furniture, ideal for children and adults alike, has been fitted. Exposed wooden beams in the attic living room are are especially striking and provide a tree-like canopy for curious toddlers. “The spaces, previously burdened by architectural choices from bygone times, can now be fully enjoyed by the children,” says Antonio Virga.
Marie Marvingt was a revered French WWI and WWII pilot and nurse, an athlete and mountain climber.
Surface area of nursery school and crèche
Interior spaces: 2,710.81 square meters (29,179 square feet).
Exterior spaces: 1,419.78 square meters (15,282 square feet).