The Chevrens Centre is a residential and training centre designed to accommodate and meet the educational needs of young people between 14 and 18 years old. It is situated at the entrance to the hamlet of Chevrens in the commune of Anières. Despite regular improvement work to the Centre since it opened in 1957, its two buildings are now obsolete from a structural point of view and limited with regard to changing needs such as coeducation and reception capacity. The Foundation which acts as an umbrella organisation for it therefore organized a competition for the design of a new Centre comprising residential, training and administration facilities.
The project adopts the principles dictated by the site plan. It takes into account the heritage interest and consistency of the historic urban fabric of Chevrens, and so ensures that the Centre will sit harmoniously on the site. The project integrates the guiding principles of the existing urban fabric, notably by reinforcing the single frontage on the village street, with its irregularly-spaced series of courtyards and narrow passages, proposing an ensemble built around a courtyard facing the road. Special attention has been given, incorporating the notion of progression, to the tension between the road and the first building, which redefines the entrance to Chevrens and the transition between the countryside and the built-up core of the hamlet.
Two separate buildings are proposed here: one for training, the other for accommodation. The idea that young people must physically leave their homes to go to work is regarded as an educational element.
The buildings’ facades are inspired by the location. Those of the houses in Chevrens are mainly stone masonry walls. The large farms on the edges of the hamlet and of neighbouring villages, for their part, have traditional wooden cladding. The idea developed for the project is to combine these two principles by using the customary timber facing as formwork for the reinforced concrete facades. The concept of fossilisation springs immediately to mind. The illusion will be perfect: from a distance, you will appear to see timber facades but, on closer inspection, you will gradually realise that they are in fact made of concrete: wood / concrete, formwork / cast material, a great contemporary way of reinterpreting traditional principles. The building’s integration into the hamlet will be clearly legible but without any recourse to pastiche or nostalgia.