Eric Arsenault Architecture

01 chateau chinon internat

Boarding school in Château Chinon

  • Localisation : Chateau-Chinon (58)
  • Program : Extension of a boarding building : 120 students in 30 bedrooms for 4 (first and second level), 16 students in 8 bedrooms for 2 (ground floor), foyer, prep room, dining room, (ground floor), infirmary, keeper's house (ground floor)
  • Project type : new build
  • Surface : 2 942 m2
  • Cost : 4 136 000 € excl. VAT
  • Client : Conseil Régional de Bourgogne
  • Work duration : 18 months
  • Delivered: 2008
  • Photos : Christophe Deschanel

The project involves the extension of a boarding building designed 10 years ago by the architectural agency Arkédif, for the agricultural college.

The land allocated to the project has a steep slope at its north-east end and beautiful views of Chateau Chinon and the Morvan.

During the contest which the project was the subject of, I had to face two important decisions :

  • First I realized that the fine tuning of the bedroom as an entity would drive the development of the entire building. For this I had to abandon my volumetric research during the design and start the project again after having established what constitutes a basic room.
  • In addition, by choosing a direct connection, volume against volume, whereas the program pushed to create a separate block connected by a glazed link.

The project is developed along a curve initiated by the existing building. It asserts it and continues it. The curve allows to connect the two buildings with a volume unicity that gives a new scale (greater) to the whole building. It is then positioned on the site in agreement with the central building of the school and avoids the effect of a large nucleus surrounded by small satellites.

This direct connection from volume to volume also provides an efficient and economic link between the boarding areas while avoiding vis-à-vis which is not desirable in a boarding building.

Curve management

The double inflection of the curve opens the composition of an assemblage that would have been too "hard" if it had been drawn with a single arc, and allows to manage, without monotony, an 85 meters long "line". This double inflection recalls the idea of a contour line which stretches freely in the landscape.

In addition, accidents (loggias) and specific treatments at the ends (the glass hall, the suspended tea room) tell a story about the façades from the outside and give a landscape reading from the inside ....

Altitude management

Gradually from west to east the building juts above the drop and the panoramic views of the Morvan reveal themselves.

The two upper levels are at a fixed height, in conjunction with the levels of the existing boarding part.

The ground level descends gradually eastward accompanying the natural slope with a break in level for each independent part :

  • The lobby and common activities at level 0.00,
  • The infirmary and bedrooms at level - 1.00, with a ramp or stairs to return to the natural ground level where necessary,
  • The technical rooms under the nurse accommodation at level -3.50.

From the infirmary, the poles height increases with the slope by accompanying the difference in height. The tension created by the slope has found its remedy in the northern gable with a tea room overhanging above the drop and the outside staircase that goes with it.

Façade management

A logical handling of the façades has been developed based on the degree of weathering. Thus we find successively the following materials, from the most exposed (façades) to the most protected (set back from the façades) : zinc (including roof), plaster, wood panels, glass.

The treatment of the wooded façades refers to a wooded background and gives a more "sensitive" character to the students façades (as opposed to pure housing). Similarly, the volume of the tea room, dressed in wood panels in its lower part, may picture a cabin suspended in the emptiness.

The bedrooms

Planned for 4 boarders, the bedrooms are designed with 4 separate sub-spaces as if there were four small bedrooms inside the big one. So each boarder has a window with a private space which is visually protected from the others by the arrangement of furniture.

This concept of individual spaces has proved important for boarders who live all week in public areas.

Circulation and corridors

Inside, the boarding master bedroom is located at the heart of each level. With a good corridor width (2.00m) and reversing curves which clear the visibility, the boarding master can see up to 50m in direct vision.

The corridors are intersected by balconies that let in natural light and offer intermediary small sitting-rooms off the bedrooms which give onto the scenic highlights of Chateau-Chinon and the Morvan mountains. The tea-room at the end opens onto a panoramic view.


Some of the work achieved during the operation :

  • Entire insulation in hemp wool (nice smell during the construction !)
  • 12 000 L excavation for the recovery of rainwater feeding all the toilets, with a one month autonomy,
  • Photovoltaic solar panels (Suchet couverture)
  • Cellular floor slabs without intermediary carriers, poured concrete walls (Léon Grosse entreprise GO)
  • Traditional Wood Framing (the panels give the curvature), curved wood panels (Navyrex Isogarant déroulé) and stained (Tolens hauts extraits secs) (Voisin Charpente).