University building in France

54 The sustainable school The lived experience of small architecture schools is one of cramped and disorganized spaces. They become their own architectural dilemma and cannot adequately accommodate the school’s multiple academic produc- tioin booms. It follows from this experience that the smaller an architecture school, the more complicated it becomes to incorporate its programmatic needs; and while architecture students have adapted considerably to sub- par working environments, smaller schools often become too overwhelmed during times of rapid change to the discipline. Large spaces are much more flexible by nature. The original brief calculated the school’s proposed surface area by applying a European standard of 10 square meters per student. Yet while this number may represent a baseline standard for an architecture school in the early 21 st century, how will it respond to the school’s future expansion and evolution? In the coming years, as more people enter the higher education system, the student body will likely grow, requiring an expansion of the school’s studio spaces, workspaces, and classrooms – changes that can only be accommodated by thinking big. To provide ample room for the development of the school’s student body and program, Lacaton & Vassal more than doubled the amount of available surface area from 12,500 square meters to 26,000. Produced at no addi- tional cost, this extra space is vital to the present and future workings of the Nantes School of Architecture. It is able to absorb changes and resolve constraints with ease, which it demonstrated during its construction process when changes to parking policies and zoning laws saw the addition of a floor to the annex, the conversion of a second parking level into

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