Le Blé en herbe school
The school "Le Blé en Herbe", situated in the village of Trébédan (400 inhabitants), has 64 nursery and primary school pupils, in three classes. For the past eight years the school teachers have run educational projects that closely involve the pupils' parents, town councillors and elderly members of the town. Their initiatives have breathed new life into this rural area and led to the creation of a group of patrons united around a project for the school. As part of the restructuring of the buildings, which had been necessary for a number of years, the patrons wished to commission an artist. Their aim was not only to improve the functionality of the various spaces and to ensure that they complied with standards; they wished, even needed, to reinforce and make visible the school's social and cultural role in the village. Advised by the CAUE 22 (Conseil en Architecture, Urbanisme et Environnement des Côtes d'Amor), they contacted Eternal Network to assist them in designing their project within the framework of the "New Patrons", supported by the Fondation de France. Based on the project definition, the terms of reference of the commission included: renovation of the existing buildings; extension of the school, with the construction of a new classroom for the nursery section, as well as a new canteen; creation of a physical link with the village square; and creation of specific furniture. The building had to respect the standards of ecological construction and on the whole the project had to be implemented in an environmentally friendly way.
To meet the different objectives of this project, Eternal Network commissioned Matali Crasset, whose project proposal is based on the idea of sharing and sustainable development. It aims to requalify the school according to the passive building model, and to change its level of accessibility so that it can host not only school activities but also activities related to village life. More precisely, Matali Crasset's project provides for a new arrangement of the teaching areas. The three classrooms (two situated in the old building, plus the new nursery school classroom) converge around the current covered playground where the new entrance of the school is to be situated. A new covered playground is added as an extension of the classrooms, and has slides and ramps for outdoor games. These playground facilities are designed to remain accessible outside of school hours. A new space is created for the canteen and the motivity room, which also constitute a common room open to all. The school buildings are treated as platforms for many different types of activity. Weather vanes, miniature windmills, nests and watch points for birds, a vegetable patch for teaching purposes and a belvedere are being created above the classrooms. The plant roofs provide a breathing space and form a new landscape. Solar panels produce energy to meet some of the school's needs. The inside of the classrooms is designed on such a scale as for children to have the impression of playing under a table. Attached to these different platforms of the school are elements that Matali Crasset has called "extensions of generosity". These are small architectures on the scale of objects allowing the school to be open onto the village space. "Les sources" (the sources), "Le cycle" (the cycle), "Le jeu" (the game), "La rencontre" (the encounter) and "L'accueil" (the reception): each of these extensions is qualified in relation to its use and the activities that it hosts and/or generates. For example, "Les Sources", open to all, hosts a library and a cyberspace, while "La Rencontre" takes the form of street furniture to host public events in the village. By building her project around the patrons' wish to enhance the value of the school and its role in fostering social ties, Matali Crasset is creating a participative system where the highly qualified teaching spaces are available for activities open to all.
Matali Crasset, born in 1965 in Châlon-en-Champagne, lives and works in Paris. Her creations, emblematic in the world of design, are found throughout the world. After graduating from the Ateliers, École Nationale de Création Industrielle (ENCI) in 1991, she worked with the designer Philippe Starck for five years. In 1998 she started her own business, which has enabled her to work in a wide range of fields, from industrial design to furniture, interior decorating, and stage design, among others. Matali Crasset's work focuses not so much on the formal and decorative traditions of design, but rather on the function of objects and relations between these objects, humans, and human activities. The artist explores domestic rites and the social and cultural codes governing our daily lives, in order to experiment with new typologies and ways of appropriating them. She proposes spaces open to all, objects suited to users and to human desires, which facilitate interaction and sharing. Matali Crasset's universe thus transports users into an alternative reality, inviting them to react to the world around them.