Collège Simone-Veil, Lamballe (FR)
New building

Client: Conseil Départemental des Côtes d'Armor
Location: F-22400 Lamballe, Rue de Dahouet
Architecture: Dietrich Untertrifaller with Colas Durand
Competition: 2015, 1. prize
Construction: 2016 – 2018
Area: 9,000 m² SU
Ecology: Effinergie+ label
Programme: All-day school for 820 pupils, 19 mainstream, special and specialist classes, multi-purpose room and canteen

Photos: Luc Boegly

Ulrike Bale-Gabriel, Jörg Fend, Clemens Holzhuber, Christina Kimmerle (Project management), Andreas Laimer, Josef Piroddi, Gordon Selbach

Text: Gerlinde Jüttner

Statics concrete: Espace Ingénierie, Saint-Brieuc
Statics timber: QSB, Lannion
Building services, building physics: Thalem Ingénierie, Bruz
Costs: M2C, Lamballe
Acoustics: Acoustibel, Chavanne
Timber construction: Renault menuiseries, Lamballe


  • PAEB – Prix Architecture Espaces de Bretagne, Award
  • Holzbaupreis Vorarlberg, Recognition
  • Wood Design & Building Award, Award

Long wooden cuboid on a curved glass arch

The college in Lamballe is designed for 800 pupils and consists of two building sections: A long, rectilinear cuboid made of wood rests on a curved concrete base that blends harmoniously into the silhouette of the rolling hills. The wide arc of the fully glazed base shields the schoolyard from the busy Lamballe bypass, defines the open spaces and opens up towards the town centre.

It comprises the entrance hall, the covered schoolyard, rooms for free work, a multi-purpose room and the school restaurant, with administration, sanitary facilities and cloakrooms in between. The two-storey wooden block contains the 19 main, special and specialised classes. Plenty of wood and ample daylight are the most important ingredients of the school, where inclusion is a high priority.

The classrooms on the two upper floors offer wide views of the outside and are linked by vertically offset air spaces and bridges spanning over them.

Each french school has a so-called "préau", a covered courtyard area where the pupils gather in classes to go to the classrooms together with their teachers. In Lamballe, this is located in an arc under the cantilevered wooden building above.

Experience space of galleries and bridges

The full-height, light-flooded atrium contrasts with the compactness of the building. Despite the rigid specifications, spacious, bright zones for communication and relaxation played an important role. The galleries and bridges combine in the three-storey central hall to create an experience space, flooded with daylight on all sides.

Durable material

The choice of materials respects the environment as well as the demand for durability and low maintenance costs. Concrete on the ground floor ensures the necessary robustness, while the upper floors were constructed from precast concrete elements and timber. Vertical and horizontal timber elements on the longitudinal façades control the lighting and shading.

Generous despite standardisation

The French education system differs from that in Germany and Austria, and this is also reflected in the school buildings: Safety and control play a major role in French schools. Each classroom has two entrances and toilets are only located near the dining hall. At Collège Simone-Veil, we were able to strictly implement the standardised spatial programme of French schools without restricting the spaciousness of the rooms.

Floor plan L0
Floor plan L1