The brief for the project to extend this building was to create something in keeping with the existing building and its immediate environment – the historic town centre of Ensisheim. The tender was won by architectural agency FFW in Mulhouse. This small town in the Alsace potash basin is still home to some beautiful 16th century residences, such as its Regency Palace, and the town ramparts date back to the 13th century. Not only was the project constrained by the need to respect this architecture and a tight budget, it also had to be easy to maintain due to its proximity to the preschool sports grounds. The children throw a lot of balls around during their play and hit the façade regularly.
First choice: hand-moulded brick
For Johann Froeliger there was never any question of using anything but hand-moulded brick, because it “is a splendid material, which also conforms to the standards of the French architectural review board, is durable and requires no maintenance”. He chose hand-moulded bricks in two shades, Agora Titan Grey and Agora Silver Grey.
The architect likes “the natural and irregular look of this brick”, which allows the creation of specific designs on gable façades. The town’s mediaeval buildings were the inspiration behind the idea to recreate the appearance of ancient façades in contemporary shapes and colours. Moreover, the very specific pattern used has enlivened the straight, sleek lines of the extension. As the architect says, “you get different shadow effects depending on the position of the sun”, which are accentuated by the two alternating colours of brick. Light and shadow combine in different ways depending on the time of day, like tiny sundials on the façade.
Trust in the contractor
The architect defined a percentage of grey to be used per square metre, and then left the contractor to lay alternating light and dark bricks in a random pattern. The project represents a traditional structure, in a natural material, with a contemporary twist. Now, the children can throw around as many balls as they like – the brick façade of the preschool building can handle them all!
Project namePreschool Extension, Ensisheim, France
ArchitectFFW - Johann Froeliger
ClientSCHWOB in TRAUBACH le BAS (Haut-Rhin)
Hand-moulded Terca bricks in Agora Titan Grey and Agora Silver Grey
Year of completion2017