Lycée Français Barcelone: a Dialogue between Buildings

b720

Architects: b720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Area: 3.038 m2
Year: 2017
Photography: Simón García

The building of the school was the result of the addition of a series of temporary buildings over many years, surrounding two early 20th-century villas. After a careful analysis of all the possible intervention options, we proposed the creation of a new building that would be efficient, representative and functional, while maintain one of the pre-existing villas (the other one was in a much worse state of conservation).

The new ensemble sets up a dialogue between the school’s history and its future. A visual and programmatic relationship is established between both buildings, through a porch that provides indoor communication between them and a space that serves as a shelter in case of rain. The formal resolution of the new building evokes the volumetric shapes of the villas through the rounding of its corners, establishing a formal relationship without necessarily being subordinate to a historicist imitation. The scheme of a large central courtyard for playing and perimeter spaces is maintained.

The new building is developed across four levels. A semi-basement level takes advantage of the difference in height between the garden (playground) and the street to create a direct access that is partially covered and an outdoor waiting area for parents and children. From here, users can access the interior of the new building and the garden, on the exterior, via a set of stairs and a ramp. Classrooms are located on the three upper levels. Each floor of the building is intended for a different age level. The proposal locates all the classrooms in the new building, leaving the preserved and restored villa for shared uses: the media library, music room and administration areas.

The image of the façade is derived from an envelope of vertical slats that run along the entire perimeter of the building. The position, orientation and separation of these slats has been studied to provide optimum solar protection, and they are highly efficient in their environmental and thermal terms and in durability. The play with colour and proportion is the result of a continuous dialogue with the client, who from the beginning wanted to include colour in the design.