STRASBOURG – It’s back-to-school season and students are ready for the first days of school this September. One institution welcoming academics is the new INET building, part of the National Centre for the Territorial Public Service in Strasbourg. Two seamless and smooth volumes are stacked one on top of the other, distinguishing themselves as a public mixed-use building standing tall on a corner plot.
Designed by AZC and Michel Spitz, it accommodates a school on the lower half and office spaces in the tower above. The school revolves around a trapezoidal courtyard and an adjacent sculptural wooden staircase, so all the classrooms and the large auditorium face outward to the streets. On the third storey, the function changes and transitions. A cafeteria and large exterior terrace acts as the common space for students and employees that work in the tower above.
The office tower has a total of five storeys, using about half the surface of the school below. Tall and rectangular, it cantilevers over the school on one end and defines the two separate entities housed here.
Concerned about the ageing process of the building, the architects chose anodised aluminium panels and glass to design a seamless finish. ‘The idea was also to create a contrast with the buildings surrounding this project. They are mostly using concrete, brick, materials that have a strong presence, whereas we chose to give the building a sense of immateriality,’ explain Irina Cristea and Grégoire Zündel from AZC.
The architects exercise a brutalist touch to the interior, calling for as many raw materials that can withstand the heavy use of the school premises. The exposed concrete soffit is masked by the necessary amount of custom acoustic panels, and wood is the main colour accent throughout the building. The curved edges in the facade and floor planning are the sole exuberant feature of the property. Not only is it a curved facade but a curved project that can be felt from the inside.