LocationLe Havre, France
ProgramEducational, administration and school life buildings
4 amphitheatres, including one with 200 seats, 16 lecture classrooms, 7 bridge simulators
Capacity: 550 to 650 students a year for initial training, 400 to 450 interns for continuing education
Area7,061 m² usable space; 9,650 m² net floor area
ClientAgglomeration community of Le Havre (Codah)
General Contractor: Sogea Nord Ouest (Affiliate of the Vinci Group)
MissionWinner, December 2012
Cost€18,374,000 Tax-Free (value 2015)
Project TeamArchitect: AIA Architectes + Intens-Cité
Consulting firm fluid engineering, roads and networks: AIA Ingénierie
Consulting firm structures, acoustic and methods: Sogea Nord Ouest
Environment: Echos consulting firm
Economist: Économie 80
The ENSM is located at the gates of the city between two water basins, close to the port and in a hyper visible position. The project’s urban anchoring draws inspiration from the interplay between the town and its docks; its morphology, expression and texture echo the ships that roam the oceans. Its parallel alignment with the docks introduces a direct connection with the basin and the port. The building’s bow cuts a clear figure in Le Havre’s skies, akin to a sharp prow reaching for the town. The building rises from the ground and unfolds around the three-façade chiselled glass entrance of the reception. A spatial continuum appears, starting from the water basin and reaching to the roof of the building, thereby giving birth to a transition between water, earth and sky. This ascending sequence emerges from the dock and opens onto the town via a slanting front square before proceeding up through the four floors of the building, taking the form of a “staircase-street” leading up to the upper deck, where one can enjoy a wide panorama of the port and the Seine estuary. The shell is made of woven metal strands (anodised aluminium) that display sombre and ever fluctuating reflections depending on the weather or time of year or day, leaving no doubt as to the vibrant oceanic and urban identity of the structure. Crisscrossed with openings, it unveils the building’s innards and understructure via effects of transparency and opacity.
The programme was set up to transform the building into an educational tool, whose internal organisation is analogue to that of a ship: it is an original concept of Ship in School. AIA’s architectural approach was to see the whole school as equivalent to a “training ship”. The different inner spaces are created with a vessel in mind, where technology is ubiquitous and highly visible. As a true ship would, the ENSM is able to manage its energy consumption in order to ensure its autonomy. This is possible thanks to the Energy-Plus construction approach, that includes a heat exchanger submersed in sea water, an AIA Ingénierie innovation.