This new social housing residence comprising 92 apartments is located in the middle of an urban development zone (ZAC) within which no other works have yet begun. Intended to house former migrant workers, single-parent families and isolated individuals, the residence clearly plays an important social role. The challenge was to assist residents turn a new page in their lives and develop the identity of the future neighborhood. The success of this type of operation simultaneously lies in the appropriation of the setting by its inhabitants and its acceptance by the neighbors. The architects specifically worked on these two aspects: from the outside, the architecture moves away from the codes that generally define the image held by hostels (introversion, repeated alignments of windows, mineral façades) while inside, particular care is taken to organize the routes followed by the residents (from the common areas to the front doors of the apartments).
The building, laid out as a right angle, defines a vast south and west oriented garden. The residence is designed as an assembly of three small buildings, a solution that offers a pleasant neighborhood scale and allowed the lessor to organize its rehousing offer on the basis of affinities between former neighbors.
To avoid any repetitive effect, a specific approach is proposed for each side of the building (north road, east road, interior of the block). The façade opens very generously to the north: the glazed envelope provides transparency between street and garden, placing emphasis on the animation created by the movements of the residents on the access decks. Vertical elements forming fins optimize the provision of natural light and simultaneously enliven the façade. The rhythmic continuity and the effect of slightly offset projecting fascias assure the link between the two façades giving onto the streets. On the streets side, each housing unit has two vertical windows, either grouped together or separated, that contribute to “disrupting” the way the building is read by favoring the perception of an aluminum block. On the garden side, windows are positioned together in pairs within a shared metal frame, emphasizing large horizontal lines and reducing the number of perceived openings.
Two types of housing units are proposed: longitudinally on the street side (layout in parallel with the street) which mathematically reduces the number of housing units subject to nuisances, and in depth on the garden side, favoring a pleasant interaction with the heart of the site for the majority of tenants. These differences contribute to reducing the effect of repetition linked to the nature of the program and, as far as possible, provide each apartment with an individualized appearance.
The external distributions linking the two parts of the building to the north as well as the large outdoor staircase have been designed to act as small vertical “squares” positioned between town and garden, providing residents with settings in which to chat with one another, rest or just watch the world go by.