In the kind of context where security requirements often take precedence over the quality of interior spaces, this project for an educational detention center for minors was inspired by a strong desire to create a counterpoint, in example, to make the enclosure disappear in order to open the view of the young occupants onto a new horizon.
Architects: Combas Architectes
Location: France
Area: 2450.0 m2
Project: Year 2017
Photographs: Dirk Lindner

© Dirk Lindner

In 2013, the Ministry of Justice issued a request for proposals to design and build a new juvenile educational detention center, aimed at focusing penitentiary policy more on prevention than on repression.
© Dirk Lindner

The new complex, imagined by the COMBAS architecture office, formed a large U-shape, designed to host the children on the ground floor, in a warm and enveloping form. At the entrance, a portal opens first onto the first courtyard shaded by an ancient ash tree, on the south side of the building, an orchard revives the agricultural identity of this property formerly run as a truck farmer of the northern neighborhoods of Marseille.
© Dirk Lindner

Facing its garden, the roofs come together like two L shapes, which seem to have pivoted from a corner of the building to open onto a patio with pierced opening resembling a cloister. This arrangement offers young occupants comforting shade and an unobstructed view over the city.
© Dirk Lindner

All the façades, which are cut out from the exterior, are made of solid stone in the Mediterranean tradition, whereas the inside walls made of board-formed textured concrete are left exposed. Traces of the wood formwork are also visible in the hallway. The use of rough materials allows for the interplay of sobriety and a stripped down look to provide a warm and robust educational context.