Half Dose #53: Lycée Agricole

Although my French is quite rusty, I'm intrigued by this project by Perraudin Architectes for an agricultural school in Bourges, France.

[aerial rendering | image source]

Where language can't explain the ideas, drawings and renderings suffice. The aerial view illustrates the relationship between the old and new, the latter adopting not only the existing buildings' forms but their siting.

[site plan and sketches | image source]

The courtyards created by the building footprints are suitable for both agricultural and educational functions, as they create intimate environments separate from the fields beyond, with the buildings acting as wind breaks to help create a calm courtyard space.

[aerial rendering | image source]

The pyramidal form that the architects adopt from traditional farm buildings in the region is an expansive shelter that protects the occupants from rain and other elements, while allowing warm air to rise to the loftspace above to vent or recirculate, depending on the time of year.

[sections | image source]

The proposed buildings are a contemporary take on the traditional pyramidal form. A double-wall condition is created, as the sloped glass walls shelter buildings underneath. The sections above show how the high summer sun heats the air in-between, drawing hot air to the peak to cool the buildings within (combined with geothermal), while the low winter sun penetrates deep into the interior, the whole construction acting like a greenhouse.

[courtyard rendering | image source]

I'm a sucker for architecture inspired by traditional buildings, but at the same time I'm not a fan of overly glassy buildings. Fortunately this mix of good and bad (in my book) acknowledges the effects of glass construction and uses that to its advantage, keeping in mind the time-tested reasons for a building's form. The site planning, and courtyards in particular, are also commendable, if not as highly developed as the design of the buildings.


  1. very beautiful indeed. On a minor note, that will kill a lot of birds. Glass architectures are really destructive for birds.

    An estimated of "200 millions of birds collide fatally in USA with glass towers *each year*" - Ref. The World Without Us.

  2. Good point, ushi69. Even though Weisman talks about tall buildings, I'm reminded of a walk past Helmut Jahn's dorms at IIT, where a number of birds were lying deceased at the bottom of glass walls adjoining the courtyards, given that they divided outdoor from outdoor space and therefore had no reflectivity; they were basically invisible. (Years later they draped mesh in these areas, though the glass walls of the rest of the building didn't have problems.) What differentiates these glass buildings from Jahn's and the ones that Weisman refers to is the angle of the walls and the in-between space. Neither may help in the case of birds, especially if the angle reflects the sky when birds are flying horizontally or if the inside building is capped by a green roof and a bird sees that and goes towards it on its way down. At the same time it makes me wonder if greenhouses have always posed this sort of problem, but it took glass skyscrapers to bring any attention to the issue.


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