Project in Detail
Children's Toy Library
LAN Architecture, Paris, France
Exterior view of the new skin
Children’s Toy Library – Bonneuil-sur-Marne, France
A public building and a children’s play area: opposition between monumentality and conviviality, a dialogue in the same construction.
The Children's Toy Library was created in a crossed reflection on several axes: change the destination and utilisation of an existing public building, conceive of a children’s play area, create a public equipment in an unstable area through a small scale project compared to the surrounding buildings, work with a very restricted budget originally planned only for internal arrangements and a roof extension.
Instead of following the vertical extension strategy, our intervention was inspired by a medical logic, creating a supplementary freestanding skin which allowed us to control the interface between the area, the building and the interior spaces, but also to answer the requirement and to improve spatial benefits.
By its scale, strongly contrasting with its environment, the Children's Toy Library appears as a timeless, almost unscaled and massive object, becoming a landmark for the neighbourhood/the area. The skin defines itself as a raw concrete shell, nearly hermetic, trying to protect the treasure it surrounds and creating an obvious discontinuity with its context.
Like Norman bunkers or Sardinian vernacular constructions, the building tries to exist as an accident which would have been materialized, giving the impression it had always existed and becoming immutable.
This architecture is not a sign, which shape would be the content expression. Its interest is situated into the curiosity it inspires, strongly contrasting with its surroundings. As an unusual piece, it questions the one who doesn’t know it whereas, as a cocoon, it inspires confidence to the one who is used to it.
Interior spaces are surrounded by the concrete shell but allow visual gleams on the townscape through punctual glazing. Therefore, it is possible to take inspiration from it, but the views thinness allows to abstract and to give way to the flowering of the game universe, in the spaces inwardness.
The project seeks for interior space quality while optimizing conviviality, comfort and spaces readability. The floor plan clearness delimitates the North part of the building, more enclosed, dedicates to offices, equipment and maintenance services, whereas the South part has more various volumes and is organised with wider and more opened spaces.
In the future, this simple typology could allow modifying the activities of the Children's Toy Library, without spoiling the functionality needed by this public building. The visitor experiences the space as soon as he enters the building and crosses the entrance hall, lightened from the façade but also with zenithal glazing taking him to the loan desk.
Interior spaces are simply designed, orienting oneself is natural, since serving and served spaces are clearly determined, on the two levels.
The concrete reveals itself in a real destitution between natural and artificial, in the context continuity. The skin roughness contrasts with the fineness of window frames and glazing which, while participating to the volume simplicity, create visual transparencies and glints contrasting with the environment light effects on the thickness of the material surface, as a function of seasonal and climatic cyclic variations.
The building tries to seduce and question using concrete in an important proportion so as to disturb the usual experience. The Children's Toy Library has been created as a rugged object in the area and tries to give a catch point that could allow each one to develop a new vision on its surroundings.
Mr Benoit Jallon