Boarding School, Rodez, 2007
At first sight, the La Roque high school looks like a rigid unit. Located along the ridge line, it overlooks the valley towards Rodez to the south. This unit, emblematic of the Rodez landscape, is characterised by an extremely strong link to the site. It tackles the slope and drop unique to the plot. The site is delicate – it is not about shaking it up, but merely inhabiting it. The project’s image is that of a rocky outcrop, like the natural extension of rock strata. This approach gives the project its identity: leaning against the cliff, the building tackles the plot’s significant gradient and offers some horizontal features to reflect the landscape; it guides the eye towards other buildings in the bottom of the scene. Drawing inspiration from existing buildings, the project works at landscape level and as evidence of time. At landscape level, the building looks like both a glossy and matte cube. It appears alongside the existing stone building parts. It is separated from this unit to showcase them. Up close, the building has an autonomy and uniqueness; it becomes unique and precious. But this autonomy is not absolute. The relationship between full and empty and the placement of the openings draw inspiration from the existing building. The composition is based on a square plot and looks like a cube, and has no gable or hierarchy between the facades. The building is made of concrete. Without imitating the stone which makes up the existing buildings, concrete is the most similar material. It has a similar appearance and finish, ageing and link to time. The work on the walls – including the matte, glossy, smooth and coarse appearances – uses a combination of raw, forged, stained, coloured or glazed concretes which gives it a certain abstract feel and a very similar appearance to stone. The rhythm created by the openings and glass windows gives the facade resonance and depth. The building itself offers geometric clarity and materiality, changing with the light and the seasons.