Author(s): Laurens et Loustau architectes
Contributor: Laurens et Loustau, Maison de l'Architecture Midi Pyrénées

ITEP le Home

Created in 1943 in the Toulouse area, the APEAJ (l’association pour l’éducation et l’apprentissage des jeunes: association for the education and teaching of young people) welcomes more than two hundred children suffering from behavioural issues in one of its many specialized institution. The ITEP educational and pedagogical institute “Le Home” is one of those.

The programme was defined to host 50 children and 40 adults staff members on a floor area of approximately 900 square meters and required 3 independent accommodation structures aimed at three groups with distinct pathologies, a whole made of classrooms and studios, a therapeutic centre, administrative offices and logistical areas.

Using “affordable land” acquired by the APEAJ, the new ITEP is designed at the heart of a site gashed by brutal urban transformations, in a setting dedicated to the automotive industry which perfectly reflects the image of a “city doormat”. Bordering the future institute that is designed as a refuge, we find to the east: a second-hand car business that extends into the car pound of the Toulouse area; to the south: a transportation firm’s car park and to the west, a vehicle technical MOT centre.

Self-assuming and leaning on this context, the architecture of the new ITEP tries to establish a dialogue with its environment and refers to a built whilst borrowing some images from its transformation. Thus analysed and reinterpreted, the elements of the site inspire a vocabulary that contributes to writing the new ITEP.

Faraway from the slick varnish of the pink city, this architecture refuses to stand out from the site at the risk of reinforcing its heterogeneous character. Avoiding an outrageous break in style that could destabilize its users, it attempts at melting into the background to prove more honest and serve a cause better.

Rejecting the traditional organisational plans promoted by the tradition of national education – buildings around a courtyard – the project tends to isolate the various functions to render them identifiable by autonomous, distinct buildings, thus enhancing the plot selection and enriching the outside spaces. Hence organised, the new ITEP gathers a group of seven buildings composing a whole of courtyards, plots, garden and paths where one can lose oneself and discover, expunging the notion of institution to the benefit of village.

Resulting from exchanges between educators and architects, this project was made possible by enlightened authorities represented by Madame Laloye, director of the home.