Unforseen curves

Clamart Sports Center near Paris

by Gaëtan Le Penhuel & Asso­ciés


Clamart Sports Center is made out of sustainable wood, tucked under a giant green roof. Desi­gned by Gaetan Le Penhuel Archi­tec­ture, the buil­ding houses four schools under a lush field and a huge curved wooden shell supported by struc­tu­rally effi­cient lami­nated wooden beams.

The site is comprised of two main units: the sports complex, under a vast and unique metal enve­lope; and the school complex, protected by a land­scaped plaza, and which is composed of four schools and their shared areas – lunch­room, recrea­tion areas, a cultural center, and a multi-purpose hall with a sepa­rate entrance.

Sports complex

Clamart Sports Center is fede­rated under a single and gigantic metallic enve­lope. Alter­na­tely dilated, dug or curved, as if deformed by the presence of its multiple func­tions — dojo, gymna­sium, evolu­tion area, tennis court — the buil­ding has however, nothing of a mono­lith. This amiable diplo­docus is struc­tured by a skeleton of glue-lami­nated wood, with very long-range.

The sports complex is composed of supple curves. Iima­gined as a genuine sports city, its undu­la­ting stan­ding seam aluminum enve­lope also meets the strict tech­nical and aesthetic requi­re­ments for design. Touching the ground on its north and south façades, it protects the urban envi­ron­ment from noise pollu­tion.

The conti­nuous, hollowed shell housing the gymna­sium, chan­ging area, and a tennis court, contrasts with the flat green roof. Its lami­nated wood skeleton was built by Metsä Wood, a Finish manu­fac­turer of sustainable wood products.


The four schools at Clamart Sports Center, mainly on the ground floor, are nestled under a vast carpet of gree­nery offe­ring at the sight of the inha­bi­tants an inac­ces­sible raised square, but unifying. To orien­tate in this vast ensemble, volumes pierce and emerge from the broad vegetal plate, crea­ting punc­tual double heights, spatial breaths, openings towards the sky, while poin­ting out the parti­cular elements of the programs located at first floor.

This semi-inten­sive green roof, planted as a “flowe­ring prairie,” also ensures excel­lent thermal insu­la­tion, hygro­me­tric comfort, as well as optimal reten­tion of rain water, thereby redu­cing runoff from the lot. Main bearings on this large site consist of volumes cut through this vast ensemble, emer­ging from the large green cover, crea­ting occa­sional double height areas, areas of respi­ra­tion, and openings toward the sky while also signaling the parti­cular elements of the program located on the first floor.


The geome­tric comple­xity of the struc­ture and the roof present inte­res­ting tech­nical chal­lenges. These led the archi­tects to make the ambi­tious and original choice of utili­zing cross-lami­nated timber for the roof’s complex wide span frame­work, thereby offe­ring the possi­bi­lity of making large-scale curved box girders.

The frame­work obtained with these large-scale girders creates a cover of appro­xi­m­ately 40m x 100m exten­ding from north to south, and joining the ground at either end where the roof gradu­ally becomes the façade.


Clamart Sports Centre is really excep­tional, not just because of its size but also because of its shape. With its curves, unusual dimen­sions and wide opening in the roof for the track and field area, very few pieces of wood used were iden­tical. Due to its complex geometry, the roof and frame­work design of the Clamart Sports Centre posed advanced tech­nical and aesthetic chal­lenges, such as the double curve in certain areas of the roof.

The whole set, schools and sports complex, all in soft and undu­la­ting curves, creates a new peaceful arti­fi­cial land­scape embo­dying the ambi­tion of a shared urban, social and educa­tional envi­ron­ment, favourable to the well-being of its users.

Exterior views

Site & ground plan 

Sports complex


School complex

Companies involved


Gaetan Le Penhueö & Asso­ciés Archi­tectes
23, Rue de Clery
75002 Paris

Client & User




Gaétan Morales, Cris­tina Fernandez, Laetitia Biabaut

Companies involved






Gaetan Le Penhueö & Asso­ciés Archi­tectes




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