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National Bourges School of Music and Dance, France

Jean-Christophe Ballet

The site chosen for this project is bordered by a built-up area consisting principally of buildings typical of the area. Rectangular in shape, the plot is enclosed by the rue Sellier on the west where stand two seventies blocks, and by the river Auron to the east, that follows St Pauls’ landscaped parkland. Situated close to the town’s principal activities, the music school will naturally mesh into, and reinforce, the area’s cultural and architectural heritage.

The scheme’s disposition and layout are at once simple and effective. It derives its strength from a respect for the character of its surroundings as well as from the marked defining features such as the road, the river and the parkland. The idea is to exploit these elements by bringing in to play their volumetrics thus encouraging an urban bond between two disparate areas that see themselves as uneasy neighbours. The project fits smoothly into this area of land free of the existing service buildings. It lies against the road as would a vessel hug the quayside, overlooking the spread of reclaimed marshland, creating a bridge between two newly joined communities. The implantation of the site relies upon the comb-shaped spatial elements that grip into the plot from East to West, together with a looping schema that irrigates the building transversely on the North / South axis. This last is strongly emphasised, and governs the layout. More than just a building, it is an open canvas, ready to define the character of the area afresh; a joining of the two entities, road and parkland On a plane, it integrates the open and enclosed in such a manner as to retain a fine balance between the idea of shelter and an opening out onto the town. It then adapts its scale to its closer environment. Its lines, less regular following the road, due to its proximity to the neighbouring buildings, and vistas that are constricted by the narrowing of the road, are broader and more fluid to the west, reflecting the landscape beyond. Here the school benefits from a more dramatic panorama, given the wider spread of space available. Intended more to create ties between two urban elements than to separate them, the building spreads along the length of the plot while being punctuated by areas of non constructed space, thus lightening the composition. They trace interlinking areas of greenery leading through the complex; from the landscaped parking area to the north, through various patios to the gardens in the south. The openly stated intention to link the road to the parkland could not be better realised than by allowing an unhindered perspective between the two. This role would be accomplished through the hall, by opening up the space beneath the auditorium and the foyer, allowing a clear view of the parkland from the road. This is extended to the east by a sheltered urban gallery that is set into the building, a bold curve that follows the road, opening itself to exploration rather than acting as a barrier. To the west it evolves into terraces that meet the river, a footbridge spanning the middle, giving the school a onvivial role, with space for strollers and cyclists on the one hand, and the parking area to the north. Built on two levels, the hall opens out onto a patio and the auditorium’s extended height develops into a mezzanine, which, outside continues as a promontory overlooking the landscape. The reception area, which would ideally placed in the heart of this zone, would lead students, and the public towards designated areas. Heart of the project, the whole concept is defined by this axis, the construct orientating, different disciplines and activities radiating from this point, towards the ‘prongs’ of the comb. These are north/south facing and are, as defined by the parameters of the programme, situated in close proximity to their corresponding disciplines. Some designated areas enjoy more flexibility, such as the choreography class south of the garden, or a favoured area in the heart of the complex such as the library, or rehearsal rooms. On the upper level the principal repeats itself with, in addition to the teaching (brass instruments, wood, keyboards), the administrative area would naturally be placed close to the entry and the hall. This complex but coherent setting allows free circulation from one sector to another, with corresponding and interconnected loops. Here, set with terraces, glazed walkways, open spa.



Ville de Bourges
Completion date: 


Type of building: 
Copper used: 


Name, office: 
Ivars et Ballet Architectes Associes
Address & description: 
19 Rue Chapentier Boite Postale 90935 Tours Cedex 1 France



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