The new Collège Courbet seeks to harmonise with and complete the school district. The project, before becoming an actual building, is primarily a public space project; a living and meeting place along the north-south axis of pedestrian traffic between the train station and the town centre. On this very unusual site at the heart of La Tour-de-Peilz, the grounds of the Courbet and Marronniers colleges are level with and continue the town pavements, with no actual threshold or physical barrier (such as railings). School grounds and public space merge and blend in a total spatial continuum to form a single space, a rare and fabulous thing.
The idea here is to propose two voids with high functional and spatial qualities: a playground for young children and a recreation area for older students. These leisure spaces are defined by two built volumes and a planted area along the north-south pedestrian axis. The many mature trees and bucolic paths are preserved and enhanced by the planting of new sizeable specimens. The trees clearly play their role as a green screen vis-à-vis the pedestrian link between the La Tour-de-Peilz train station and the town centre. They thus provide a framework for the large recreational space orientated towards the Collège des Marronniers.
To the north, the project proposes a second, more contained and intimate open space: the young children’s playground. This is linked at one corner to the other space by a narrow passage between the two new buildings. The latter are characterized by their own specific volumetric organisation. Though on the plan they appear as rectangular parallelepipeds, they are in fact different. The first building has a continuous cantilevered profile on the ground floor of one of its long sides, while the second has a dual-level flat roof.
The harmony of a site comes, firstly, from the skilful management of the built volume and voids, and secondly, by an appropriate architectural programme. Here, the decision to place one of the programme’s main features (the triple sports hall) in the basement allows the site to breathe and offers high quality outdoor areas in terms of constructed volumes and green spaces.