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Theodore Monod French high school

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mission new construction – competition
client  French teaching abroad organisation
project manager CoCo architecture mandataire, Jean de Giacinto architecte, IRC ingénieurs, A.F. Labrunie
date 2010
footprint 6 512m²
price 4M€ excl. taxes
location Nouakchott (Mauritanie)

Launched by French teaching abroad organisation, the competition for an extension and reconstruction of Theodore Monod high school in Nouakchott seeks to provide work spaces suitable for students from kindergarten to the final year of high school

Building in Mauritania has obvious climatic issues: the heat, sun and wind are basic restraints which have guided the execution of the project. However, it was also necessary to think in terms of local knowledge, available materials, the particular socio-cultural context and the history of this French school. The original high school was designed in 1982 by RavereauAndre’s ‘Workshop of the Desert’, whose cutting edge bioclimatic research guided the location of the building, its form and the composition of its facades. The steady growth resulted in ad-hoc extensions, which have reduced the overall legibility of the current building. The project therefore proposes a new legible and functional organisation for the various entities: kindergarten, primary, intermediate, high school and administration spaces.

The project has several other objectives:
– to understand and enhance the identity of the initial establishment
– to restore the original buildings with respect to their architecture
– to create a simple project that unifies the buildings and establishes a dialogue within the school complex
– to propose a redevelopment for the exterior spaces in relation to the architectural, teaching and climatic restraints

The spaces for the younger students remain within the existing buildings, with various alterations made following the same logic. The administration areas and the student library have been developed in bands, which alternate between building and shady patios, along the length of the avenue. The buildings of the high school fit together to form clusters organised around teaching subjects.

Sun shading on site has been maximised by installing stretched canvas roofs over the patios and protecting the facades of the teaching buildings. The attar stone moucharabieh wall protects the classrooms from the sun, while the intrusions allow for ventilation and views to the exterior.