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Sports pavilion built at a school in France

Projects | May 1, 2023 | By:

Lycée Michelet is located in Vanves, an old but storied suburb of Paris, on a piece of land it first occupied in 1871. The school (Lycée) is at the center of Vanves and within blocks of the Paris Convention Center and little more than a third of a mile from the Seine River. As with many schools throughout France, the naming tradition honors notable people in education, and Jules Michelet (1798–1874) was known for writing landmark textbooks about French history.

A recent redevelopment program for the Lycée Michelet campus was completed in May 2022 and included a new sports area featuring a multisport pavilion that is sheltered by a single-layer ETFE roof. Architects for the project, Paris-based Explorations Architecture, began with the decision to use only sustainable materials and a goal of maintaining a transparency of the site for the sake of the community that surrounds the campus. This pavilion is for not only the high school students during the week but also the neighborhood residents during off-hours and weekends.

The choice of a timber grid in the form of a shallow hyperbolic paraboloid (“saddle shape”), covered with a 2,250-square-meter ETFE foil membrane, made the most sense and met the program’s goals of durability, lightness and recyclability as well as ease of maintenance.

As part of a heritage district, the Michelet sports area is restricted to a maximum height of 10 meters (32.8 feet). This canopy measures between the 10-meter maximum and the minimum height of 7 meters (22.9 feet) that the sports activities require. 

The canopy—engineered, fabricated and installed by Taiyo Europe GmbH—is reinforced with stainless steel cross cables in the top edge of the roof, held up by steel columns. Photos: Taiyo Europe GmbH 

Project name: Lycée Michelet à Vanves

Location: Vanves, France

Architect: Explorations Architecture, Paris, France

Engineering: EVP Ingenierie, Paris, France

Canopy design, fabrication & installation: Taiyo Europe GmbH

Fabric: ETFE Nowoflon by Nowofol GmbH

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