The present college premises (net surface area: 4,150m2), designed by Patrick Berger in 1989, were built to take account of the old building giving onto the Boulevard de Chézy, creating an extension on the river side.
The Brittany National College of Architecture has been on the site adjacent to Rennes town center since 1990. It is located on a triangular plot bordered to the north by the Ille-et-Rance canal and by the island to the southwest. Of the former factory built in 1884, Patrick Berger preserved the administrative building and two entrance lodges on the edge of the courtyard giving onto the canal. The administration and the library are now located there. These elements form the basis of the architectural composition from which stems a subtle play on symmetry, alignment and complex articulation of spaces. The plot’s point is home to a garden supported on a rough granite retaining wall, which conceals the entrance to the underground parking lot. The diploma hall is inset into the far end of the wall to the south in the extension of the workshops. Its square form nestles into a concrete ramp which leads to a roof terrace. With an all-wood interior, this is lit by a skylight and a glass door giving onto the river.
The workshop buildings follow the sweep of the island. Constructed from wood with raw concrete cross-walls eight-meters high, they are placed on a granite base housing the parking lot. The specification of the iroko facing, in brass frames, makes it very imposing. The workshops each echo the same design. They are accessed by an external glass gangway. Their opaque doors frame slender glazed openings through which the workshops are visible. Once inside, the light plays between the great glassed bay giving onto the river, the skylight and the small bays which partly open onto the 19th-century building from the mezzanine.
At the opposite end to the diploma hall, which backs onto the administrative building, the model studio, glazed on three sides, illustrates the open plan with its roof, the wooden beams of which rest on four inset metal posts.
The great hall, running diagonal to the 19th-century building, offsets the symmetrical composition of the project. It rejoins the workshops building passing six workshops on the left and four on the right. There are two classrooms at the meeting point which frame a glassed bay giving onto the river. A ramp leads back to the workshops level, raised up on top of the parking lot.
Entirely glassed on its western side and the ground floor to the east, the walls draw the eye across the project. The roof supported on four posts enables a double wall to be suspended inside which fits a staircase linked to a footbridge. The overhang continues into a concrete gateway which frames the glass wall opposite.
Using wood, concrete and granite, Patrick Berger favors a sober style to demonstrate materials and light. His project is gradually revealed through the dissociation of moving parts, and demonstrates a reserved architecture.