For months, all the different trades worked in turn to complete the new conservatory. The workmen have done an impressive job under the supervision of the project management team, in cooperation with the municipal services.
The council worked in close liaison with the architect Bernard Desmoulin (whose work includes the Decorative Arts Museum, Sarrebourg Museum and the Grands Communs of Vers
ailles). He says, “The building is a 21st century continuation of the heritage of the town of Clichy, with its iron and glass architecture; we wanted to maintain a link with existing buildings including the Maison du Peuple, the Printemps Warehouses, and so on.”
The proximity of the metro and the narrow footbridge were a real challenge for construction. It was necessary to get rid of vibrations from trains – achieved by laying the foundations on a layer of rubber. The auditorium uses an even more unusual technique, as it is built on springs. In this way the hall is completely independent, so much so that technicians describe it as a “box within a box”.
The new Leo Delibes conservatory, in the very centre of the Town, is a collection of small teaching units set back from large walkways along the rue Martre facade. The building envelope, a succession of steel columns, creates a grid effect which simultaneously shields it from the outside and provides a vista onto the town from the inside. In the entrance hall, the bare steel and concrete floor materials contrast pleasingly with the warmer timber and gold elements.
Close to the entrance, the auditorium creates a threshold effect, with all the activity rooms and group venues extending back along the site.
The 3000m² of space contains 34 rooms and a 237-seater auditorium.
The wide walkways, designed to offer a maximum of sight lines, all benefit from natural light. They are spaces in their own right – a reminder that a Conservatory is a place accommodating life, exchanges and to meet others. The walkways are very wide and lead directly onto rue Martre. The building, which is wheelchair accessible, is also designed to meet HEQ standards and has been built in line with quality environment procedures. For instance, the conservatory on rue Martre has a green roof.
In addition to the aesthetic and ecological aspect, a lesser-known fact is that this
“garden” acts both as heat insulation and as a filter for rainwater.
The particular feature of this conservatory is that it is attached to a very big school (Jules Ferry), with two direct accesses to the primary and nursery schools.
It is dedicated to three fields of art: music, dancing and drama. Above all, the venue is a place for teaching and artistic projects.
Interview with Bernard Desmoulin
“This building was constructed in cooperation with Daniel Bouillet, head of the new Léo Delibes conservatory. We are committed to making this venue into a lively facility where everybody can find their place and feel at home. Work on the plans accounted for 80% of the project but for the remaining 20%, we concentrated on the needs and expectations of future users. With Daniel Bouillet we visited no fewer than four other conservatories, and on the basis of these visits we gradually defined important criteria for the building together. It soon became clear that we needed to avoid having a large hall which would be cold and empty. We wanted people to have a warm, pleasant welcome. Children come in and leave just as if they were at home.
I also remember being struck during one of our visits by the silence reigning in the conservatory. The place seemed to be dead. So we decided to have less soundproofing between the rooms so that the music could waft out. Now, as you walk along the corridors, you can hear a blend of pianos, violins, guitars and other instruments.
Another fundamental point was that each classroom and room should have natural light, which we were successful in achieving. The teachers and pupils are delighted with the result.
Finally, a very specific request from Daniel Bouillet was that the administrative offices should be located on the fourth floor. The management is usually located on the ground floor, but for him it was of prime importance that you should be able to walk across the conservatory, a living place, before reaching the management.
It is through this consultation and work together that we were able to make the facility so full of life. It was easy for everyone to find their place, and that’s all to the good.”
2009 Equerre d’Argent Prize
The most prestigious architectural award in France, the Equerre d’Argent, is awarded by a panel of architects, architecture critics and developers, and run by the magazine ”Le Moniteur des travaux publics et du bâtiment”. It was awarded to prime contractor Bernard Desmoulin and project owner Clichy Council for the new Léo Delibes Conservatory.
This prize, which has been in existence since 1983, went to Bernard Desmoulin, chosen from a shortlist of 12 finalists selected by Le Moniteur. The building project, launched with a call for tender in 2004, appointed Bernard Desmoulin as the architect for the construction of this new municipal music, dancing and theatre school. The building opened in 2009 and was inaugurated on September 23, 2009 in the presence of Jean-Paul Huchon, President of the Ile-de-France Regional Council.
What the users say
Isis, Camille et Lila, year 6 music theory and violin pupils:
“The new conservatory is bigger and we really like it. It’s nice, there are lots of rooms
and it’s better organised. We enjoy being here and stay around to do our homework without being disturbed when our parents aren’t home. The entrance is nice too, you can even leave your scooter in the hallway. This year, we were keen to do the “beginners” workshops, so as to try out all the instruments, like the violin and piano.”
Clara and Manon, year 7 music theory pupils:
“What we like about the new conservatory is that it’s much nicer than before. And there’s a lift as well, benches for sitting on, and even showers! We can come whenever we like and even practise if we want to. The concert hall is really nice, too. It’s good when our parents come for our concerts, there’s loads of room and the red seats are nice.”
Thomas and Jessica, guitar pupils in year 7 and year 8:
“Here we’re in the studio and it’s great because we can practise again before going to our lesson or even stay here afterwards. Before, we used to get bored just sitting on the benches.
We didn’t really like going to the old conservatory, but here it’s nice. It’s just the opposite. The rooms are big with bright colours.
We like coming to the conservatory, and we’re really pleased it won a prize.”
Patrick Michel, head of studies:
“The other day, I met a dad who was making the most of the natural light in the corridor to write letters while his daughter was having her lesson. It’s true that on every floor the landing is light and pleasant, with views over the town.”