UFR STAPS: An exemplary renovation project

October 19 was a day of celebration on the Veyrassi campus. Building A, renovated after a year and a half's work, was officially inaugurated. Here's a look back at a 5 million euro project that proved exemplary in many respects, starting with the mobilization of UM management and all "stapsiens".

The inauguration of Building A of the UFR Staps was held on October 19 in the presence of (from left to right): Gérard Vilarem, deputy regional academic delegate for research and innovation; Elisa Basso, sub-prefect of the Hérault department; Angèle Chopard, dean of the UFR Staps; Philippe Augé, president of the University of Montpellier; Christophe Bourdin, city councillor and metropolitan councillor responsible for sports facilities; Jonathan Valtat, architect, atelier d'architecture Patrice Genet.

"Now when students refer to Building A, they say ' the new building ', which means everything," enthuses Angèle Chopard, dean of the UFR Staps. We've had nothing but extremely positive feedback. It has to be said that the building's particularly successful renovation has brought a welcome breath of fresh air to the campus, which is home to 2,200 students, over 70 teaching and research staff and around 30 administrative staff. "Bernard Maurin, vice-president in charge of real estate,sums up : " Whether it's the restructuring of UFR activities made possible by this new building, its energy efficiency or the strong commitment of UM and UFR Staps management ,this operation is exemplary in several respects .

Guided tour

Inaugurated in 1980, Building A, which greets visitors as soon as they arrive on campus, now boasts modern facades featuring the silhouettes of sportsmen and women. "On the first side we see a couple of runners, symbolizing parity for us, on the right and left sides a tennis player and a rugby player, and on the last side an armchair basketball player to underline our commitment to inclusion ", explains Angèle Chopard, who was behind this " little personal touch".

With a surface area of over 3,000 square meters, the building was built on three levels, all of which have been renovated and restructured. The first floor houses an e-library, the first of its kind at the University of Montpellier, administrative services (tuition, logistics, reception), a room reserved for people with disabilities and an attractive social room opening onto a small terrace. The 150-person amphitheatre has also been completely refurbished. This amphitheater was notorious for its dilapidation and bad smell due to ventilation problems," recalls the dean. Today, it's a magnificent and very pleasant facility ".

Quality of life at work

The garden level, one level below the first floor, is largely dedicated to students. Here you'll find: the student office, a workroom with three individual cubicles and a space for relaxation and exchanges, also opening onto an outdoor terrace, a brand new learning lab and a connected gym: " rowing machines, treadmills, skisErg... Everything is connected for real-time analysis and to train students in the analysis and evaluation of physical activity, technological tools, exercise physiology..." explains Angèle Chopard. Finally, the second floor, reserved for the teaching team, houses the management, the studies department, the boardroom, the teachers' offices and the Santesih research laboratory.

" These new premises bring a new dynamic and greater comfort. We see a lot more of each other, which generates more interaction and conviviality. It's a real quality of life at work," emphasizes the dean. An elevator and access ramp have been installed to enable everyone to move around easily on the three levels. And there's color everywhere: " orange for the sports training department (ES), pink for the adapted physical activities and health department (APAS), turquoise blue for the education and motor skills department (EM) and midnight blue for the sports management department (MS). And in the staff offices, everyone was able to choose their own color," explains Angèle Chopard, who was behind the initiative. These colors were highlighted by a dance performance put on by students on the inauguration day, under the direction of Frédérique Tison, head of the dance specialization.

Energy renovation  

And there's much more to this renovation than just its finery. The building's energy performance has been completely overhauled, as provided for in the government's stimulus plan, which financed a large part of the work costing a total of 5 million euros. Exterior insulation of the entire envelope, installation of new windows, replacement of the air handling unit with a double-flow system, replacement of the old lighting with LEDs and, last but not least, accessibility upgrades (installation of an interior elevator and an exterior ramp) as well as safety upgrades.

The resilience plan unveiled by the French government in March 2022 has also led to the replacement of gas-fired boilers with a heat pump, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting dependence on fossil fuels. Bernard Maurin points out: "This is an operation that had long been identified by the DPI, whose proactive approach is to be commended, but which had not been carried out before due to a lack of funding. These two plans have given us a windfall effect, but above all we have given ourselves the means to obtain this financing.

Exceptional mobilization

This windfall effect is not without a downside. While these government plans represent a real opportunity for public-sector establishments, they are also accompanied by severe constraints, particularly in terms of deadlines, with relatively short deadlines. "We had to move very quickly to put together the files and then notify all the works contracts. The UM departments involved, including the Property Management Department (DPI) of course, but also the Purchasing and Contracts Department, had to pull out all the stops. The execution of the work was also subject to tight deadlines, and the scale of these stimulus plans is creating a sharp increase in demand on a national scale.

" All companies are being called upon at the same time by state operators, with three effects: shortages of materials and components, price rises exacerbated by inflation, and overburdened contractors who have not all been able to honor their commitments," explains the vice-president. The consequence for the Staps refurbishment project? A delay in delivery of several months and an inflated bill of 600,000 euros. " And here again, I would like to underline the commitment of the University, which was able to finance this increase in costs from its own funds, and the exemplarity of the Staps staff and students, who were able to operate in deteriorated conditions for over a year.

A wait that "was well worth it", exclaims Angèle Chopard! And the renovation of the campus doesn't stop there: in 2024, a climbing wall will be installed in the Palais Universitaire des Sports Veyrassi, a key infrastructure whose surroundings will also be made safe. The dean also hopes that the Montpellier metropolis will put in place a project to replace the current rugby and baseball pitches with synthetic pitches, optimizing soccer, rugby and baseball practices through triple marking. " We will then be able to say that our campus is optimal. It will make a major contribution to the quality and influence of our teaching and research, and will enable the practice of shared sports ," continues Angèle Chopard, before letting Bernard Maurin conclude: " We've had a good alignment of the planets, but we wouldn't have been able to seize this opportunity without this exceptional mobilization! "