/// A LOOK AT: Dominique Coulon, architecture and colour

23 Oct /// A LOOK AT: Dominique Coulon, architecture and colour

In November 2017, Batimat will be launching the first edition of Regard sur l’Architecture, a publication for the show’s exhibitors and visitors that will present exceptional projects with use at the heart of their design.

The Joséphine Baker primary and nursery school in La Courneuve (Paris suburb), delivered in 2010, is one of the projects featured. Interview with Dominique Coulon, architect of a project where architecture serves education.



L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui: The Joséphine Baker primary and nursery school is one of the projects featured in Regard sur l’Architecture. What do you think of Batimat’s editorial initiative?

Dominique Coulon: I think it’s a very positive initiative, essential even. For us, the use was the driving force behind the project. Schools are a tool for education, but they are also a place for stimulating learning, and architecture plays a key role in this.

The idea of opening up architecture to the general public is great. There are not really very many exhibitions of architecture for the general public, and they should be recognised, along with anything that could encourage awareness about the key role of architecture in day-to-day life. 


L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui: For this specific project, what was the biggest challenge that you encountered and how did you resolve it?

Dominique Coulon: The Joséphine Baker primary and nursery school is part of an urban renewal project. The “Cité des 4000” estate in La Courneuve is being transformed into a tranquil living space. Work on new housing, landscaping and facilities like the primary and nursery school are becoming the centrepieces of this developing neighbourhood. In the words of architecture critic Richard Scoffier, “the group of schools occupies a trapezoid-shaped plot of land obliterated by the non-aedificandi area corresponding to the location of one of the two demolished low-rise buildings (Ravel and Presov) […] The requirement to refrain from constructing closed volumes based on the rectangle that is a feature of the plot of land, combined with the constraints in terms of density and height, has enabled Dominique Coulon  to question the separation of the primary and nursery schools.”

This school is proud of its public vocation, and expresses a generosity of volumes designed to impact the entire site. The building and use of colour creates a new kind of heterotopia.


L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui: Your project illustrates an essential issue, that of adapting architecture so that it is appropriated by the users. How did you incorporate use issues into your project?

Dominique Coulon: We explored the uses of the school buildings, putting the play areas on the roofs. The ramps and varied paths give the facilities a playful dimension. Our architecture is generating new uses. The spaces are designed to host the most innovative educational approaches. Our aim was to create a world that would stimulate learning, and the result is a joyful atmosphere.


Interview realized by “L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui”  in August, 2017.



Batimat is a committed observer of major trends in the sector, and launched the Regard sur l’Architecture programme during the 2016 Biennale Architettura in Venice, based on a simple, yet essential question: Architects are visionaries, but what impact do their buildings have on residents and users? What is the fruit of the architect’s ultimate aim of improving our living conditions?

Regard sur l’Architecture is a 12-month field survey with those designing, constructing and living in new builds, providing new insight into a selection of recently developed unique buildings, which have been chosen for the quality of their “architectural solutions” to a given issue such as emergency, social or collaborative housing.

The findings from Regard sur l’Architecture will be published in November 2017 in a beautiful book and presented during a series of meetings with the contributors, organised by our partner L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, on the afternoon of Wednesday 8 November during the Batimat show.

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