Vurpas Architectes transforms French market with "childlike quality" into primary school


French studio Vurpas Architectes has converted a 1960s market building to create Eugénie Brazier, a primary school and nursery in Lyon.

Eugénie Brazier is built around the long structure of the old wholesale market and features perforated brickwork and a neutral colour palette that draws on the existing building.

To accommodate a nursery as well as a 15-class primary school, a matching extension has also been added.

Eugenie Brazier primary school by Vurpas Architectes
Vurpas Architectes has converted a market building to create the Eugénie Brazier school

“The project is based on the continuity of the old hall and an extension that precisely matches the existing structure, using its compositional lines and constructive principles to create a new whole,” Vurpas Architectes told Dezeen.

“Composing with an ‘already there’, even though it was far removed from its new purpose – early childhood education – made it possible to go beyond the program. That’s the magic of rehabilitation,” the studio continued.

Eugénie Brazier is designed to fit into the gridded structure of the 1960s building, which is divided into a series of six-metre-wide bays.

School in a converted market building in France
Perforated brickwork features throughout the building

“If you shift your perspective, this repetitive structure with its playful platforms, takes on a rather childlike quality,” the studio explained.

“The very rigid grid framework of the market layout gives the programme a very clear, obvious distribution and an internal organisation the children can easily understand.”

Eugenie Brazier primary school in Lyon
The school has a gridded structure

With a rhythmic concrete structure, the facade expresses the school’s gridded design. A mix of light-coloured brickwork and floor-to-ceiling windows fill the spaces between.

Long scalloped roofs top the school as well as canopies that extend from either side, sheltering semi-outdoor walkways spanning its length.

School in Lyon in a converted market building by Vurpas Architectes
Scalloped roofs top the building and shelter outdoor spaces

The nursery occupies five bays, positioned at one end of the ground floor in the original building. It is bordered by its own playground and accessed by a private entrance.

Inside, the nursery is decorated with a light, neutral colour palette and features white-painted walls as well as timber beams that line the ceilings.

A set of preschool classrooms beside the nursery is decorated in the same way. Here, an existing loading platform in the building has been converted into a large sheltered play area.

Ten primary school classrooms are arranged across the first floor of the existing structure, with links to a rooftop playground.

Eugenie Brazier primary school in Lyon by Vurpas Architectes
Eugénie Brazier contains a nursery and a 15-class primary school

Perpendicular to the 1960s building, Vurpas Architectes has added an extension to hold the school’s communal spaces. This includes a dining hall, medical room and caretakers’ housing, as well as a spacious double-height gymnasium lined with timber battens.

“The extension was totally inspired by the existing building, taking all its principles and adapting them to the additional uses to be accommodated here – large dining and sports rooms,” Vurpas Architectes explained.

Rooftop playground at the Eugenie Brazier school in Lyon
There is an outdoor dining area

Large semi-outdoor spaces including a covered outdoor dining area have been added as part of the extension, set within a concrete structure decorated with brick infill.

Other outdoor spaces include a sunken courtyard, which is designed to open up the basement of the existing building.

Interior of the Eugenie Brazier school by Vurpas Architectes
The interiors have a neutral colour palette

“The transformation of a former basement into a ‘lower level’ opening onto a new planted English courtyard provided additional space,” said Vurpas Architectes.

“The program was thus de-densified on the upper floors, and a bright, sunny roof courtyard was added to complement the shadier courtyard at the heart of the block.”

Other buildings for education recently featured on Dezeen include a colourful school added to a historic Detroit college and a rural Tanzanian school that uses local materials.

The photography is by Vladimir de Mollerat du Jeu.



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