By Marina Correa Photography: Philippe Ruault; courtesy the architects
The Giraffe Childcare Centre designed by Hondelatte Laporte Architects introduces a dollop of fantasy into the routine lives of suburban Parisian townsfolk-
Niched between a towering structure, next to a neighbourhood built in the 70s and a newly constructed area, it was imperative that the healthcare centre did not -get lost’ within the urban landscape – hence the building is composed of three tiers and each is identified by a unique concrete animal sculpture.
The facades of the building are made out of white corrugated iron that provides a minimal background to the animal sculptures.
Interestingly, each of the south-facing playgrounds is in continuity with the interior spaces; while the urban landscape is animated using a child’s imagination. The wild animal sculptures appropriate a 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 faade 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.
Besides infusing a playful and poetic element, this building has also been awarded a green, zero energy efficiency label, making it not just aesthetically appeasing but also one that respects its environment.
Becoming a prominent landmark for the nursery, the affable animal forms transport us to a make-believe world. When pondered upon, definitely a project that goes way beyond the surface to attribute human characteristics and ethos to the emotional, functional routine of a child daycare centre.
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