Colouring outside the box

Painted glass panels bridge modern and classical design in this vibrant façade for a new school extension in Paris by AS Architecture-Studio.

Acting as a contrast to the static and rough bricks of the existing historical school building, the extension of the Novancia Business School in Paris is a smooth and kinetic façade of mobile shutters made with colour printed glass.

The vibrant façade of the school extension is composed of 4,102 thin and rectangular revolving glass shutters that are electronically driven to open, close and revolve in order to optimise interior temperature and reduce both glare and solar gain. When seen from a distance, the shutters appear closed but are revealed to be transparent when one is nearby.

The colour range also changes as the shutters adapt to the brightness and position of the sun. Each glass panel is painted on both sides in one of three different striated patterns and one of seven colours ranging from deep red to bright yellow. The palette of selected colours responds to the vernacular of the original building – including its brickwork colour and feature mosaics – as well as the red colour of the nearby Bourdelle Museum. Depending upon the position of the sun throughout the year, the façade colours range from pastel to nearly fluorescent in intensity.

Drawing a clear distinction between old and new, we think this project is a great example of how modern materials can draw a functional and visually powerful distinction between modern and classical architecture.