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School instructions manual

A participatory analysis of the learning process of young people, transformed into art

25 November 2020
Year :
Location :
Lycée Jules Vernes, Limours

In 1994, the region Ile-de-France asked Sarfati Architecture Office to build a new building for the Lycée Jules Verne in Limours, a small city in the south of Paris. The architect asked us to create an artwork for the Lycée. Our proposal “School instructions manual” was based on Georges Perec’s text “How I think” in his book “Think/Classify”.  We decided that it was not going to be a conventional artwork. It was going to be a participatory analysis of the learning process of young people, transformed into art.

The concept was not to make one unique major artwork but to create a series of integrated interventions of different typologies onto the building, with the active participation of the students and the teachers. To do this, Schein had to become part of the school’s teachers group for the next two years. The major problem to implement this scheme was to secure the available funds for several years. We had to separate the fundings and create a special package dedicated to a long term pedagogical program of working within the school.

In 1994, the innovation was that the artwork was becoming part of the school’s pedagogy: the learning process was becoming an artwork. The surprise was that all the teachers agreed to engage in the scheme.

Two typologies were distinct for the project:
1-Several artworks were  designed to be integrated directly into the architecture such as texts onto walls and windows
2-Another series of artworks were going to be created with the students and their teachers. The thematics for these artworks would follow the pedagogical programs of the various teachers (mathematics, literature,  physics, history, etc..). Once built as a collaboration between the artist Schein and the students, the sculptured artworks produced with the students would then be integrated into special niches or “white empty spaces” specially designed by the architect to receive these objects. The architect’s mission was to adapt these architectural receptacles within his new architectural project.   Slowly, in the course of one to two years, a collection of artworks about the pedagogical program would be created and exhibited through the classes, the corridors, and the auditorium of the entire school. The students would create their collections based on the learning process

The proposal was not accepted because it was impossible to extend the funding for several years and because there was no administrative solution for long-term acceptance of artists in French schools.

In 2020, this special way of making art is been accepted. Participative art is demanded. The world has changed.
Watch our video about our project in the Lycée Français of São Paulo.


All the teachers of the Lycée
The director of the Lycée
Sarfati architecture


Région Île de France
Ministry of National Education, Culture