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Azure January February 2023 issue cover

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“From the first sketches and virtual photography to the construction, our job has only one objective: to leave the control to two-year-old children.” So write Wild Rabbits Architecture (WRA) in a description of their recently completed Crèche Les deux Oies (or “two geese” daycare centre) in Noisy-le-Roi, a town in Île-de-France. Nestled into a slice of terrain and under a skylight-replete green roof, the long and linear one-storey building does in fact seem preternaturally intuitive. It accommodates 80 children in six age groups within a layout that smartly combines various functions.

First, the roof. What the architects describe as the building’s main façade includes “a generous palette of plants, which will evolve in continuity with the ecosystem of adjacent gardens already present.” An essential aspect of the project’s bioclimatic design, this top surface is a daylighting tool that makes the interiors below it comfortable all year long. It’s also what gives the project its name: “The ‘two geese crib’ is inspired by two typologies of a local vernacular: coated pavilions on one side, agricultural sheds on the other.”  

“Agricultural sheds” refers to a defining feature of the roof: its slatted pergola, made of larch wood, steel and pine, which wraps it and the building in a welcoming gesture. And “pavilions” refers to the six volumes, three on either side of the building, that jut out from the roof’s outline and house dormitories. Contained within the roof’s surface area, the learning spaces, on the other hand, are mainly positioned at the opposite end of the structure and lead out to outdoor spaces. But even these two functions are overlapped – the architects refer to the non-dormitory spaces, which also include change-rooms and play areas, as the interstices – in an interior plan that revels in combining experiences.

Once inside, the layering of details makes for elevated interiors. Handsome wood beams are fitted under faceted ceilings elegantly clad in perforated acoustic panelling to reference the pergola and establish wood as the main material. A tunnel-like entrance, wrapped in oak, leads into the heart of the daycare, where wood, brick and lots of white-painted walls define the neutral palette.

The hard-working, homey textures help to create warm, unfussy spaces where well-placed pops of colour – in the kids’ furnishings, toys and artworks – can really stand out. It’s a building designed with care — and that will no doubt be thoughtfully cared for.

This French Daycare Centre Will Melt Your Heart

Outside Paris, a new crèche for young kids by Wild Rabbits Architecture combines open and inviting learning spaces with protective dormitories under one impressive green roof.

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