A forecourt which suggests a boarding gangway, visible and omnipresent technical elements and an autonomous energy consumption system: with the new École Nationale Supérieure Maritime in Le Havre’s AIA Associés set itself the architectural challenge of building a real “school boat”.
The new École Nationale Supérieure Maritime in Le Havre is anchored parallel to the quay, over a 100m stretch on the waterfront side, like an ocean-faring vessel: from its forecourt suggesting a boarding gangway all the way up to the upper deck, through the machine room, the technical premises in the hold, the sixteen rooms and the four amphitheatres with a view over the basin.
At the top the slant of the skyline from belvedere to prow, as well as the appearance of chimneys of light directly above the stairway-street, reinforces the impression of a ship with a dark hull.
The elegant interaction between solids and voids, with the metallic latticework (anodised aluminium), reveals its internal structure by meshing transparent and opaque surfaces.
Beyond the specific spaces commissioned for the project, the various indoor spaces are thought as a living learning space, treated in the same way as a ship as well as the visible and omnipresent technical elements as the heating, ventilation, plumbing or various electric networks.
As a ship, the building is also capable to manage its own energy consumption and to remain autonomous thanks to processes used in energy-plus buildings (known as BEPOS in France).
The bioclimatic and technical design rests on four development principles: a bioclimatic architecture, the implementation of very high performance systems, the using of local and renewable energy sources (like the innovative heat pump system with sensors in the Eure basin to cover heating and cooling needs for all premises and the 850 sqm solar energy panels on the roof for an installed peak power of 170kWc), and the building’s technical management tool and software capable to monitor all the performances.
Text by Gabriele Masi.