The residence in Sevran is located within a site undergoing profound change: the densification of the built fabric, redevelopment of J-F. Kennedy Avenue into an urban boulevard with the implantation of a tramway and the regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods.
The project includes the demolition of 200 bedrooms and the construction of 225 flats (about 18sqm) and a communal kitchen.
The project is expressed through the tension between two regular volumes animated by an external joinery frame and the play between materials.
Externally insulated hand pressed brick is the principal building material due to its ecological attributes, its thermal and acoustical characteristics but also, because over the years, it keeps its original colours without any particular maintenance other than the patina of time.
The solid parts are composed with the interweaving between grey solid hand pressed bricks, matt and rough in appearance, in contrast with a random and sparkling arrangement of blue azure varnished bricks that reflect the light. This composition confers upon the building a contemporary interpretation of a classical and durable material.
The project is planned on a regular grid based on the repetition of a typical 18sqm self-contained flat. To optimize the services layout (water and ventilation), the flats are in built in pairs. They are then assembled into coherent sets of 12 to 16 units per level to form two distinct building volumes.
The tension between these two volumes, each composed of two entities different in height with a common ground floor, is such that the group is identified as a single entity composed of 225 identical flats. Through this geometrical play of sliding volumes, these individual brick buildings bring into play a change of scale propice to better architectural integration.
Further, also centred on a regular grid, the bays are grouped two-by-two and confined within a prefabricated anodized aluminum frame that protrudes slightly from the brick facade. These twin units harmonize in an alternating manner and are offset on each level to provide a variety of effects which, when added to the breaks in volume, hide the repetitive accumulation of the identical flats that stigmatizes the mono-functional nature of the operation.
The project thus proposes a “Russian doll” type of plan where each set softens the addition of the precedent subset.
The first Russian doll, the typical flat is worked around three determining factors that give it a distinctive domestic aspect:
- a linear furniture unit that integrates all the functional needs: kitchenette, refrigerator and storage;
- a bespoke prefabricated bathroom cabin for the elderly/disabled that includes a washbasin, a shower with floor waste and a suspended toilet pan; and
- a large glazed anodized aluminum window composed of two sliding elements (to avoid the inward opening swing that would impinge on the internal area) and sun protection/occultation, housed within a frame, by a sliding anodized aluminum louvered shutter.
Recyclable and resistant to bad weather, aluminium provides the reflections and brilliance characteristics propitious to the muffled reverberation of the townscape, to the chromatic mesh and the accentuation of contrasts.
Access to the flats is by naturally lit circulations sequenced by rings of colours that identify vertical movement (dark gray) and each flat door (blue). These rings create landings in front of each flat and integrate the wayfinding.
The last Russian doll in the project, the morphology of the building volumes induced by the visible fragmentation of the structure (in opposition to the repetitiveness of the development) is also defined by the circulation gallery on the ground floor. The latter is expressed as an open but controlled space, wrapped around a small private and landscaped courtyard.
In continuation of the square that gives onto the boulevard, unfurling like a large glazed gallery onto the garden, the Hall serves the whole development. This “unscheduled” element, which maximizes the transparency, is the vector of a high quality of life and use that provides the main circulation to all the proposed facilities giving this place a distinct public but also residential character:
- access to the vertical circulation to the flats;
- access to the facilities and reception areas; and
- access to the canteen located at the end of the south gallery (built after the demolition of the existing building) and orientated towards the main access whilst contributing to enveloppe and render intimate the central garden.
An internal tree planted garden, opened to all, was thus created in spite of the compactness of the project and the dimensionnel constraints due to the morphology of the site and the close proximity of existing buildings during construction.
This element created a microclimatic zone, the internal vector of a high quality of life and use; a place for socializing. It protects from temperature differences and luminosity by creating a sunny but ventilated place (natural east-west air movement) and acoustical protection from J-F. Kennedy Avenue. The garden is visually open to the north while benefiting from the sun in the west whilst protected from the prevailing winds (southwest and northeast).
The project thus part of a BBC label environmental approach.