Stucco Relief 3.0: A School Cafeteria in Tourcoing
Client: Stadt Tourcoing
Architects: D'Houndt + Bajart architectes & associés, Tourcoing
Structural design: Kheops
Floor space: 939m²
The new cafeteria at the Groupe Scolaire Racine, located in the French-Belgian town of Tourcoing, seems to overturn our ideas about statics. The upper storey – seemingly a mottled sandstone monolith, rests on delicate steel-pipe supports. These supports form random clusters; some are a bit bent; the effect is one of spindly tree trunks in the forest. The colour scheme of this new construction gives a nod to the surrounding houses, which are built primarily of brick.
The building serves three different groups: the children from the neighbouring elementary school, those from the adjacent day-care centre and the children’s parents and other relatives. Correspondingly, the building is accessible from three sides: from the street and the schoolyard next door into the ground floor and directly from the day care to the cafeteria, which is on the upper floor.
Inside, white smoothness counteracts the rough texture of the exterior structure: the surfaces have been hand-plastered. Round skylights and irregularly arranged façade windows allow daylight into the dining room. Only the street side of the cafeteria has been clad with the same faux stone as the exterior. This is where the wall covering reveals itself as an artful copy. It consists of 70-mm-thick coloured plaster laid over a metal substructure that is fixed to the reinforced-concrete exterior wall.