Dominique Lyon Architectes

Clermont-Ferrand’s School of architecture

Winner of ArchiDesignClub 2016 Award
The project required the transformation of a 1930’s style sanatorium, listed as a historical monument, into a school of architecture. The building was renovated and extended in order to house studios, auditoriums, an exhibition hall, a library and administrative offices.

The former sanatorium is located amid park, on the edge of the town and the countryside. It had two parts : a long, narrow, south facing building partly set into a wooded hillside ; and a northern part made up of complex volumes. The southern part was renovated while the northern section was demolished and recreated.
This perfect example of radical functionalist architecture had to radically change its function. It was conceived of to isolate the sick and face them south ; whilst now it hosts a highly vital set of individuals who work in groups on computer screens protected from the sun.
So as to preserve the rational spirit of the existing building and to make of it a coherent architectural model for the future students, the project strengthens the radical characteristics of the historical building while confronting them with the contradictions imposed by the present.

The project is summed up in five points :

  • The building is isolated in a vast landscape. This ideal relation between building and nature is restituted in all its clarity : the park has been re-established in one sole stretch to regain its territorial dimension.
  • The Sabourin building secluded the sick. Today it is organized around places of communal living : most of everyday student life is situated on the ground floor. From the entrance one can see the liveliest part of the school. On the upper floors the circulations are treated like bustling collective space.
  • The sun was the raison d’être of the building. To this principle new features have been applied :
    o The facade of the entry at the north is no longer the gloomy back part of the south entrance. The sun plays there thanks to a huge mirror reflecting the illuminated sky. The sun has been diverted.
    o On the upper floors, the circulations are running all along the 100m south façade. They serve as a thermal buffer and they protect from the sun the studios that are situated on the north façade.
  • The thinness and great length of the building are exploited as an advantage : the circulations placed along the south facade allow a 100m architectural promenade where the panorama effect on landscape can be enjoyed.
  • The historical southern building complies with the seismic standards : a new steel structure has been added. It produces architectural effects that enhance the rationality of the architecture of the 30s.

The building is at the same time transformed and preserved. The new extension meets the historical building. Both form a whole and aim at being a lesson of architecture.

Client : Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
Delegate Project Manager : OPPIC
Site : 85 rue du Dr Bousquet, Clermont-Ferrand (63)
Programm : rehabilitation of the old Sabourin’s sanatorium
Competition : july 2008
Delivered : august 2015
Surface area : 11 500 m²
Cost : 22 M€ ht