Fratellini Academy at Saint-Denis La Plaine

Publié le par build a circus

6 march 2009, Visit of the Fratellini Academy at Saint-Denis La Plaine, Paris


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9h30 meeting with Julienne associated with Patrick Bouchain architects of the Fratellini Academy founded by Annie Fratellini.



The site
The Academy is based on an old industrial plot of land which has been adapted as car park for the football world cup. With on one side the railway,on the other side housing, offices and parks.
On an area of 2 hectares the buildings are spread out like a camp around a shed made out of timber frame.
The project embodies the transitory, the temporary and the recyclable :
Ditches have been recycled to create a « tank thunderstorm » and slopes conquered by existing vegetation form a natural protection.
Bronze, aluminium and champagne coloured metal sheets refused on the site of the EuroDisney extension have also been recycled. Trunks with outer layer of bark have been used and no grinded glued laminated timber.

The construction started in 2002 and ended in 2003. All together, 8000m2 of metal sheets and 950 m3 of wooden construction for a budget of 3 million euros.

Visit of the building

The occupation of the plot of land was said to be temporary. The objective was having a minimum of ground work. The buildings look posed on the ground on the asphalt of the public space. The use of timber was appropriate as material for economical and modest architecture in respect of sustainable development and in a half nomadic spirit. The construction obtained the HQE eco-label (High Environmental Quality)

The shed
To preserve the site’s memory the shed was put up on the marks of two old industrial warehouses. The shed measures 550m2 by 7 metres hight. This space which is used independently or in connection with the Altaïr big top has the capacity to host exhibitions, lectures, meetings, cocktails ... and to function as circulation space for another volume which contains classrooms, administration, reception desk, kitchen, studios ...
The no grinded floor of timber frame is lightened by the transparancy of  plastic roofpannels alternated with metal ones.

Training rooms
Two galleries lead towards the bathrooms, the changing rooms, a body building room with sauna and hammam and end up at the training rooms. These are 9 metres high. There are no openings to the outside except a few gaps in the roof on the northern side. The lighting is necessarily diffuse. The partition walls contain accoustic isolation. Showers are heated by solar pannels.

The Altaïr
Altaïr is an Arabic word which means star and refers to the eye in eagle perspective. It is a rigid big top in the shape of a star based on four tripods. 30 metres high and entirely made of no grinded timber without any inner pillar. It has room for 1600 spectators around the traditional stage of 13 m diameter as determinated by Philip Astley in the XVIII century. The rows are divided up into a central ring (800 seats) and the other half, 200 seats into four boxes covered by a red cloth.
During the show it is important to keep contact with the noises of the city (you can hear the trains passing by). The playing space is equipped with various technologies : a central pit under the stage, a ring « between sky and ground », an electric cradle...

In Berber language Amazir means free man. This big top of timber and cloth of 22m diameter has room for 150 to 280 people. As Restaurant – Cabaret, the Amazir is open at lunch time for the workers of neighbouring companies.

The training
The Academy supplies the DMA of Circus Arts. This degree of higher education is also supplied by the Centre National des Arts du Cirque de Chalons-en-Champagne, but only the Fratellini Academy offers it in tree years. With a course combining work with academic study and based on a personal programme. In this way it completes the national system of the higher education of circus arts.

The Academy offers training methods to a large public : circus workshops, children’s journey, « keeping fit » workshops...


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