To the south of Marseille, in the 9th arrondissement, the Lacube architectes agency has just delivered the restructuring and extension of the Institution Sainte Trinité, a private school hosting primary, middle and high school. 

It is in Mazargues, in the south of the city, that the district crossed by the old “route de Cassis” which extends towards the Calanques, that this project takes shape. An emblematic neighborhood made up of a network of residential areas and denser urban spaces that develop around the structure of a village core. The school has been subject over the years to multiple transplants and modifications. They are the factual expression of responses to changing needs.

For this operation, the announced objectives were to restore functional coherence, improve the quality of reception, and initiate a renewal based on the tremendous potential of the place, the space and the vegetation. The project is also an opportunity to strengthen the visibility of the institution in the city, to rethink the distribution of outdoor spaces and the management of the main flows.

On the architectural side, the volume stretches over the public space, in the spirit and typology of the large properties of Mazargues. The expression of a simple wall assumes the sanctuary character of a place of education but also invites dialogue, by its porosity, and reveals the welcome at the heart of the establishment.

A vernacular motif taken from the vocabulary of regional suburban housing, an element of a flower-shaped claustra, inscribes the layout of the Trinitarian cross in the thickness of the walls, and brings a softness and an additional vibration to the simplicity of the volumes.

Nature is placed at the center of this set. The vast island of freshness is preserved, a meadow lined with plane trees which structures the site, giving it a collected character. It is extended by a park accessible to students which follows the natural slope towards the lower part of the site.

Around this major landscaped space, the extension of the high school and the elementary school are set up on two levels, completing the form of an open cloister and allowing the characteristic silhouette of the historic building to emerge, the gable of the chapel.

The historic building, former "Boarding school for poor young girls of Mazargues" has undergone complete rehabilitation (reinforcement of floors, double-flow controlled mechanical ventilation, upgrading to electrical and lighting standards). The facades have been completely renovated with the application of a traditional hand-made lime plaster.

The constructive expression is that of slabs supported on simple shear walls. Between these structural lines are set openwork facade panels in fiber concrete which form a solar protection for the large openings of the teaching rooms. The same pattern, stamped in the veils of facades, openwork for the panels, projects the intertwined curves of the Trinitarian cross.

All educational spaces are through, benefiting from a double orientation which ensures homogeneous natural lighting of the rooms and allows natural ventilation of the premises. Mechanical ventilation was designed independently, with an original system for preheating the air inlets.


Visuals: © Florence Vesval



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