Architects: Hondelatte Laporte Architectes
Project manager: Virginie Davo
Project team: Charlotte Fagart
Photography: Philippe Ruault
Location: Boulogne-Billancourt, France
The Giraffe Childcare Center is located in the C1 block of the Seguin Rives de Seine district in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburban area of Paris. The program houses a 60 bed childcare center and 20 bed day nursery. The building has been awarded the green “zéro Energie Effinergie” label. This public building is located next to Jean Nouvel’s “Horizons” tower, at the junction between the “Vieux pont de Sèvres” neighbourhood, built in the 70’s, and the new area called “ le Trapèze”. The High density of this area gives it a rugged skyline. To be integrated into this particular urban landscape, the building is composed of three tiers. Each of the south-facing playgrounds is in continuity with the interior spaces and is identified by a unique concrete animal sculpture. Viewed from the surrounding towers, the regular sequence of terraces offers a real « fifth facade » to the neighbourhood.
The facades of the building are made out of white corrugated iron that provides a minimal background to the wild animal sculptures. The idea is to animate the urban landscape by using a child’s imagination. The wild animals appropriate the space; a giraffe appears to be peacefully eating the leaves of the trees from the neighbouring park, a polar bear tries to clamber up the steps, while a family of ladybirds climbs the façade in an attempt to reach the interior patio.
Architecture turns into storytelling. The building changes its identity and becomes a landscape in its own right, a metaphor for the urban jungle. The animals and the trees link the building to nature and motion. The giraffe has become a banner for the nursery since it is visible in the surrounding area from all angles. We walk through its legs to enter the building. Through their affable form, the lively animal sculptures invite us to live our dreams. These playful and dreamlike sculptures introduce a little bit of fantasy into the routine life of the town in order to inspire our lives with a bit of poetry.