Extra space

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 


Antonia Lair, Marlène Galland, Myrto Redor, Claire Fournier Montgieux/ Architects

Project manager:
Florise Pagès


Raising the height of buildings has become one of the flagships of today’s architecture, with radical and spectacular versions. This course planned to test out this urban, technical and aesthetic approach by getting the students to design extra space on top of their school.

The Programme
Extra space, yes, but what for? Starting out from this question, the contributor guided the students through the various programs and equipment available and also pointed out the societal issues of architecture: the students learned to distinguish projects depending on their purpose as well as addressing key themes such as urban sprawl, the re-vegetation of the city, re-use and recycling etc. This was followed by a critical and sensitive analysis of their school to consider the school’s place and role in the district, and to define realistic or Utopian programmatic avenues to explore for raising the building.

Once the students had decided which project(s) to select, they learned how to write up and defend their project to determine the type and number of rooms and corresponding surface areas on plans. They addressed regulatory requirements and some classes followed the city’s PLU (town planning) procedures.

The Extra Space
The students then moved on to the project’s completion phase. While some classes used an existing model, others began to build their own; all were confronted with the notions of scale, plans, and volume. They also all had to study access, light, circulation and materials. As well as 3D prints, they used cardboard and earth, matter that connected their project to the Greater Paris project that required a large amount of excavation and great quantities of earth to be used. The projects, most of them mixed programmes, were then set up in the building, reconfiguring and augmenting it. “La Ferme Coquette”, “Mini Cinemas”, “the Gibraltar Observatory” and the “Secret Emergency Exit” emerged, while other classes proposed social housing for the homeless or a leisure complex with climbing wall, concert hall, swimming pool or restaurant.  

The students presented their models and projects to their peers and the other students during workshop open days, and described the logical sequence of events as they tried to convince their audience of the benefits their project would bring to the school.


- Architecture Biennial: trip and visit to the model workshop at the FRAC and the Collégiale St Pierre Le Puellier, Orleans
- “How does it work?” workshop and visit to the permanent collections, la Cité de l’Architecture/Chaillot, Paris

Participating schools:
- Class 4è 4, collège Pierre Sémard, Drancy
- Class 4è, collège Paul Langevin, Drancy
- CLASS 4è SEGPA, collège Le Clos-saint-vincent, Noisy-le-Grand
- Class 4è G, collège jacques Prévert, Noisy-le-sec


Model and scenography: ELODIE DESCOUBES


Extra space
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Extra space