En archipel is a proposal by French design agency Eliumstudio for an entirely new school that turns the building into an evolving modular set of supports and spaces.

Once a year the VIA (the French association for the advancement of innovation in furnishing) awards one or more ‘Carte Blanche’ grants to designers, enabling them to research and develop an outstanding project, often of a prospective nature. For 2014, this grant was given to Eliumstudio and its En archipel – for an evolving school project that reinvents the concept of school.

The proposal for En archipel deconstructs the accepted territories of the traditional school and redefines them by introducing the concept of the archipelago – an ecosystem that has countless interfaces, crossovers and encounters. Composed of a modular set of supports and spaces that interconnect to form a network, the school environment adapts to host various activities, thus breaking away from the traditional ‘school between four walls’.

As part of this ambitious project, Eliumstudio conducts research into how teaching children and adolescents will change. It questions the current system of the classroom – where a teacher stands at the apex of the pyramid model – by proposing a living ecosystem in which pupils are stake-holders in their own education and teachers are ‘directors of learning’. In addition, it reconsiders the tools and applications for education, proposing three elements that aim to become the motor in the functioning and dynamics of the lesson.

Constant interaction and mobility are key elements in the concept. Concept names for redefining spaces are: The Factory, The Incubator, The Big Top, and The Hermitage.  For interiors, the studio designed a modular suite based on tables, culbuto stools, steps and cushions – all created in biomimetic formations that are in symbiosis with the spaces and activities.

The entire project is described extensively in this video

Photos by Colombe Clier

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