What is the best way to approach the commission for a school in Marseille, a unique, multifaceted city and France’s gateway to the Mediterranean?

A remarkable site

The Antoine de Ruffi school group occupies a strategic spot between the entrance to the new Méditerranée district, and its “inhabited park” coordinated by the urbanist Yves Lion. Its situation offers, on one hand, a view over the developing suburban fabric, with scattered warehouses, silos, soap factories, large-scale housing estates from the 1970s, and in the distance, the Massif de l’Etoile. The reverse view, towards the west, one sees the port and its huge ships, the towers by Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel, as well as the continuous sweep of the highway viaduct. To the south, the docks, the new housing developments and the business district set the tone for the future neighborhood.

Placing ourselves at the height of children

The challenge of designing a school for children ages 3 to 11 is to ensure that they love to go to school and that they find the learning environment both as welcoming and protective as one expects of such an institution. The ergonomics, the comfort and the attention of taking into account the height of children guided the overall design work all the way down to the slightest details.

A powerful symbol

Here, the aim of monumentality, durability and solidity are architectural responses to the powerful symbolism of building a public school. The superimposition of the nursery school organized around its courtyard on the ground floor and the elementary school and its courtyard and covered play area on the G+2 floor provide the solution to the

narrowness of the lot while also suggesting that one rises in o this remarkable site by learning and growing.

source: TAUTEM Architecture