School complex in Paris-Saclay

The Corbeville ZAC School is planned as part of a campus on the Saclay plateau, south of Paris. The campus also includes research facilities, two French major universities with higher education institutions (grandes écoles), and research centres of private companies. The Corbeville ZAC School will sit within a mixed-use development section of the campus that aims to provide the area with residential buildings and other complimentary facilities.

The site of the school is pentagonal and bordered by the Rigole Royale wall along its northern boundary, which cannot be touched by any construction. It borders a future park along its western boundary and residential buildings along its eastern boundary. Its southern boundary will open onto a tree-lined plaza (terrace) with views of the neighbouring Corbeville Castle. The brief requested a low-carbon building to house an elementary school and a kindergarten, and a playground for each of the two age groups. It also requested a sober architectural character in line with other buildings planned for the area. We asked ourselves: how can we differentiate the school from the surrounding university buildings to offer young children a welcoming learning environment unique to them?

The proposed design uses simple geometric shapes that echo the world of children to generate a compact volume that hugs the southern, western and eastern boundaries of the plot and gradually decreases in height from west to east. The rest of the site is reserved for the playgrounds, which will benefit from unobstructed views towards the adjacent park. This organisation, while allowing the school group to be read as a single unit, also allows separate entrances for each of the two age groups to be located at the hinge points between the three volumes to provide each with a sense of belonging. The entrance to the tallest volume is dedicated to the oldest children, while the entrance to the middle volume is dedicated to the nursery school. The lowest volume is dedicated to communal dining hall.

To forge environmental sustainability and preserve biodiversity of the plateau, the proposed design will be constructed using of bio- and geo-sourced materials, with load-bearing timber-framed walls, integrated straw insulation, and earth plaster. The perimeter walls fronting the playground gardens will be fifty percent glazed from floor to ceiling. Those that front the exterior will be punctuated solid walls, clad in crescent-shaped terracotta tiles in three different colours. The shape and colour of tiles will provide the school building with a playfulness character. The windows will have a soft border, reminding children of soap bubbles, clouds, or fish scales. The top of the building will also have a soft border against the sky, resonating with castle walls, or stone walls in the countryside. We hope, the school building will excite the children and give them a unique sense of belonging.

Architect - Farshid Moussavi Architecture

Associate architect - M'Cub architectes

Landscape Architect - D&H Paysages

Structural Engineer - EVP ingenierie


Corbeville, France


EPA Paris-Saclay



Total area

4553 m²