ESMA, École Supérieure des Métiers Artistiques et logements d’étudiants, in Montpellier
The ESMA (École Supérieure des Métiers Artistiques) stands on the site of a former army barracks, specifically on the parade ground.
Military buildings to be reused and new buildings that will shape a new neighbourhood surround us. We outline the parade ground, respecting the great trees around its edges and defining an open communal courtyard. The volume, though rigid, seeks to adapt to the place.
The brief is complex and highly attractive; a small condensed city: a large inner plaza, a restaurant, a large technical space: the film set, lecture rooms and academic spaces along with dwellings, sports facilities, etc. A small city with academic, leisure and residential activities. The project seeks to address this vital condensation in a way that is at once orderly and free.
The building is hard and repetitive, closed on the street side and more open onto its inner courtyard. Made of mass concrete, it is softened by the different textures and colours it offers us: rougher and darker in contact with the ground, and smoother and lighter as it rises towards the sky.
The mass is protected and controls its relationship with the sun by means of slats, awnings or blinds. In the academic spaces in particular, we try to achieve different degrees of brightness; the bedrooms must be able to be more opaque.
Its image is also conceived in relation to the great trees and the buildings that surround it.
Josep Lluís Mateo