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#IDN2022: L’École de design Nantes Atlantique on l’Ile de Nantes

An exceptional setting for L’École de design on l’Ile de Nantes in 2022. Photo credits: MIMRAM/JOUIN MANKU/GPAA Agencies. Images: Ida +

On 10th December 2019, the first stone of the future building of L’École de design Nantes Atlantique was laid in the Quartier de la Création on Ile de Nantes. The project is ambitious, representing the biggest real estate investment in design in France for 10 years backed by the CCI Nantes St-Nazaire, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, Nantes Métropole, and the Pays de la Loire Regional Council: a collective mobilization intended to train people in design and create added value in the area.

To begin with, the event brought together the various stakeholders around a symbolic gesture, on the site of the future building, a small get-together organized by Franck Bleuzen for ADIM Développement Immobilier, a great metaphor for the complexity of setting up a project of this size.

Participants and guests then regrouped at Trempolino, an emblematic venue on the Ile de Nantes a stone’s throw from the building site, to discover the virtual tour which was followed by discussions including testimonials by students, representatives of L’École de design Nantes Atlantique and financial partners: Emmanuelle Gaudemer, President of L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, Yann Trichard President of the CCI Nantes St-Nazaire, Johanna Rolland President of Nantes Métropole, Laurence Garnier Vice-President of the Pays de la Loire Regional Council.

A global campus for L’École de design Nantes Atlantique

Located since 1998 on the Chantrerie site, and today obliged to juggle with several different sites spread around the city, in the second semester of 2022 L’École de design Nantes Atlantique will move into a new building in the heart of the creative district on Ile de Nantes.

While this new location is a response to the rapid growth of the school which has gone from about sixty students at its creation in 1988 to almost 1,500 today, it is also part of an ambitious development strategy which aims to offer its students a truly international experience.

This international strategy helps to extend the region’s influence throughout the world since more than one in four graduates in recent years now has an international position. With over 250 Master’s graduates per year expected in the year 2022, 25% of which are international students, over 100 foreign partners, and a highly internationalized curriculum, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique is one of the leading institutions on an international level, and regularly features in league tables drawn up by national and international organizations and media groups for the different specialties it teaches.

To implement this strategy internationally, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique relies on its Design Studios present on four continents. The first was set up in 2008 in Shanghai, followed by studios in Pune (India), São Paulo and Montreal.

In a globalizing world, anything to do with cultural identity and specific user needs is essential. The worst thing to do would be to train global designers in a globalized world. What better than an immersion in another culture to question and define one’s own culture?”, emphasizes Emmanuelle Gaudemer, President of L’École de design Nantes Atlantique. Located in major international cities, mostly in emerging economies, these studios offer a long-term immersive experience of between 18 and 24 months for trainee designers, providing a real launching pad for international careers.

The Pays de la Loire Region is totally committed to developing research and higher education, which are drivers of competitiveness and attractiveness in our region, and devotes 42M€ to it each year. It takes its place next to local academic actors who are preparing the skills and professions of the future. I am delighted that the project for L’Ecole de design Nantes Atlantique’s move is now a reality and that the Region is backing it to the tune of 4.750M€. It is the first step in an ambitious development strategy to extend the influence of this prestigious design school in France and around the world.”, adds Christelle Morançais, president of the Pays de la Loire Region.

In the Quartier de la Création, the future building will be able to host students from around the globe. With this multicultural environment in the heart of Nantes, L’École de design offers its future designers the opportunity to learn to combine openness to others, curiosity, pragmatism and cultural references, all of which are essential qualities for these future professionals.

L’École de design’s new building on l’Ile de Nantes will be located next to the future urban park. Photo credits: MIMRAM/JOUIN MANKU/GPAA Agencies. Images: Ida +

The biggest real estate investment in design for 10 years

Convinced of the economic value of design for local business, the CCI Nantes St-Nazaire has backed, supported and managed L’École de design Nantes Atlantique since its creation. With the project’s other financial partners, it is giving the school the means to realize its ambitions since the future building represents, quite simply, the biggest real estate investment in France in the field of design for ten years!

It is our ambition that L’École de design Nantes Atlantique becomes the best in the world. The best so that our students benefit from top-notch training, so that our companies can build on their skills to create added value and therefore employment. The best too so that we play a role in developing the attractiveness of our region on an international scale in a field as strategic as that of design. This ambition has been made possible thanks to the strong involvement of the project’s various partners”, explains Yann Trichard, President of the CCI Nantes St-Nazaire.

L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, a long-term partner of CCI Nantes St-Nazaire, and the University of Nantes is the only private institution of higher education dedicated to design professions to be a member of the Conférence des Grandes Écoles (top-tier French higher education institutions).

This honor is based on exacting criteria with respect to the structure, recruitment procedures, pedagogical approach, international perspective, links with the business world, student support, professional integration and the nature of the qualifications.

The school is also unique because of its positioning which sees design as a discipline at the crossroads between creation, strategy and management. L’École de design Nantes Atlantique is also the only design school in France to have a CFA (Vocational Training Center) on its campus which welcomes nearly 200 apprentices each year.

Creating value on the “island of creation”

The context of the Quartier de la Création urban project is a real opportunity to continue boosting L’École de design Nantes Atlantique’s international profile. In the creative quarter, the arrival of the school will help consolidate the “creative campus”, with the nearby l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture, l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, MediacampusPôle des arts graphiques and Pôle universitaire interdisciplinaire dédié aux cultures numériques (interdisciplinary university center dedicated to digital culture), but also the Stereolux and the Cantine numérique.

“L’École de design Nantes Atlantique has become one of the most important establishments for design training in France and the most well-known internationally. This success comes from its unique state of mind, an ability to develop synergies between higher education, research and local economic stakeholders. It embodies a 21st century school, multi-disciplinary, innovative and strategic, which fully reflects Nantes’ ambition and way of working, particularly with regards to “Campus Nantes”, our university development scheme. L’École de Design’s move to Ile de Nantes planned for September 2022 will mark the completion of the creative campus situated in the Quartier de la Création”, declared Johanna Rolland, Mayor of Nantes and president of Nantes Métropole.

Thanks to this location in the same vicinity as other training and innovation hubs, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique will establish new gateways to create value and projects around the creative industries. Collaborative projects with the other academic actors in the district are already underway. The aim of this creative district is to promote synergies between higher education, research, artists and creative entrepreneurs. With the arrival of L’École de design Nantes Atlantique on Ile de Nantes, the creative district will be home to nearly 5000 students by 2022, making it the city’s largest creative campus.

L’École de design Nantes Atlantique will be located in the heart of the creative district on Ile de Nantes. Fifteen hectares will be devoted to creating a European center of excellence in the field of cultural and creative industries, mixing communication, design, performing arts, architecture and visual arts. On a campus with over 5000 students and 2000 creative jobs, L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique’s neighbours include l’École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Nantes, Médiacampus, Cinécréatis and some iconic centers of digital transformation (Stereolux and its lab dedicated to digital arts, the Fabrique, etc.)”, explains Jean-Luc Charles, managing director of SAMOA. For L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, this transfer to the Ile de Nantes reinforces a Research-Training-Innovation approach that aims to make design into an innovation practice used by companies, researchers and educators. This line of action is embodied in the school’s Design Labs, which are intended to combine design research and teaching, in a pragmatic and innovative approach related to major contemporary issues: changing lifestyles and uses, new representations and new services provided by digital technology and the Internet, transformation of cities, ageing populations and caring for others, new economic models, environmental and social issues…

The new school: a coordinated approach between architecture and design

The school building project has been designed jointly by a group of three developers made up of the architecture studios Marc Mimram and GPAA and Jouin Manku design agency. From an architectural standpoint, the project has a truly unique style. It is the result of a coordinated approach between architecture and design: the project development fully integrated a design process from the first phases of analysis to the formalization of the building system, with the active involvement of designer Patrick Jouin.

The school’s move to Ile de Nantes will be the opportunity to bring together all the actors of the school on a single site. The forthcoming premises will definitively establish the school as one of the top design schools in a highly competitive global context, at a time when the challenges of the contemporary world require a designer’s perspective to offer a viable transition. Driven and coordinated by the CCI Nantes St-Nazaire, the design of the building is based on the desire to incorporate the school’s changing teaching practices, digital uses, expectations of future users and lifestyle changes, with communal areas (Forum-agora, learning zone, etc.), teaching areas and workshops.

The future design school is organized around a central plaza, a place for socializing and meeting people. Photo credits: MIMRAM/JOUIN MANKU/GPAA Agencies. Images: Ida +

Watch the full interview of Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku about the project:

Students have their say

For me, as a student, this building is a superb opportunity because there isn’t enough space on the Chantrerie site. Its location will make daily life much easier as it is far more accessible by public transport or by bike. We’ll be in a really big building, which better reflects the school’s new dimension. Some felt apprehensive about the sheer size of it, but I think it’s been designed so that the school will still feel friendly, particularly thanks to the Central Plaza which will be a great meeting place”.

Jules Morice, 2nd year student in BDes Motion Design

Bringing together all the different parts of the school on one site will encourage communication between us students. The virtual tour of the future building was really impressive, especially in terms of the luminosity inside. For drawing or model-making, this light will be a real bonus for us”.

Flore Quittet, 2nd year student in BDes Game Design

The real estate project

The project involves the construction of an 11,500 m² building for L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, an office building of 4,600 m² and a public parking lot with 501 spaces for Nantes Métropole. ADIM Ouest, the property development subsidiary of VINCI Construction France, will be in charge of the construction project, driven and coordinated by CCI Nantes St-Nazaire. The work is being carried out on a general contracting basis by Sogea Atlantique BTP, subsidiary of VINCI Construction France. From an architectural standpoint, the building is fully integrated in its location through the choice of materials for the façade, its carefully balanced volumes and softened edges.

The School

Behind Les Machines de l’Ile with the tramway running alongside, the school will be bounded to the south by the future Prairie-au-Duc Park, a landscaped area covering five hectares created by l’Atelier Jacqueline Osty et Associés, on the site of the old railway sidings. The school building’s design is based on a layering of three distinct parts: the base, the main body of the building and its roof. The transparent base will enable the new school to open out onto the city and be an extension of public areas. Alongside the Workshops, one of the school’s key educational features, a Manufacturing Facility will open onto the public area.

The structure of the building stands out from the neighboring blocks due to its gentle curves, giving the impression it is hovering over the public area. It will contain the main teaching activities, namely the classrooms, or rather “production studios”, as well as the design labs, theme-based laboratories used for teaching and research purposes. The roof will feature a green roof terrace, a cafeteria and audiovisual teaching spaces. The central plaza will form the heart of the School. Entirely modular, the Central Plaza will serve both as a lecture hall, exhibition hall and a shared workplace to facilitate communication and spontaneous meetings.

The office building

The property development’s distinctive identity is strengthened by the similar architectural treatment given by the winning team to the office building, which is a natural extension of the school. In the long-term, this tertiary block is intended to become an extension of L’École de design Nantes Atlantique depending on the need for extra space.

Due to its location, this 4000m2 building will be particularly suitable for the creative and cultural industries sector. The program also includes a floor area of 460m2 on the ground floor to host activities or businesses

The parking lot

The project features a public car park. This 501-space underground parking lot located at basement level (R-3) is being developed by Nantes Métropole. From 2022, it will be part of the project to develop the west of Ile de Nantes to supplement the public offering of parking, for cars but also for bikes.

A partnership between local stakeholders

The transfer of L’Ecole de design Nantes Atlantique has been the object of an intelligent and effective partnership between several local stakeholders: the CCI Nantes St-NazaireL’École de design Nantes Atlantique itself, Nantes Métropole, the Pays de la Loire Regional Council and FEDER. The entire real estate project includes:

› The new L’École de design Nantes Atlantique building (26.4 M€)
› The underground parking lot (17.5 M€)
› The office building (cost: NA)

The cost of transferring L’École de design is 26.4 M€, including an off-plan sale of 25 M€, financed as follows:

› 9 690 000 € by the CCI Nantes St-Nazaire which, together with L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, has created a simplified joint stock company, Design Campus, to ensure the success of the building project.
› 11 200 000 € by Nantes Métropole, the Region and FEDER funds. Both local authorities financing the project on equal terms.
› The balance funded by loan.

The public parking lot in the basement will be fully financed by Nantes Métropole, for a budget of 17.5 M€. On completion, the local authority will become sole owner.

Construction schedule

- November 2019: commencement of work
- 2nd semester 2022: delivery of the property development (school + parking lot + offices)