Not far from the River Seine, the French National Library and new building developments in the 13th arrondissement, the project lies within a dense Parisian urban context surrounded by office buildings. Surprisingly, this deep and narrow site, once a vineyard and then a car park, hides behind a beautiful stone wall, clear land and spectacular vegetation on from the surrounding plots. This housing project of 28 social dwellings focuses on these contrasting atmospheres to divide the construction on into two sequences :
_ An 8 storey high building facing onto the main street with 19 living units,
_ A landscaped courtyard, further back into the site with smaller houses.
An unusual urban settlement on the street
This portion of the Dessous des Berges street is rather unusual as the adjacent office constructions are all set back 5m from the common Parisian street alignment.
To integrate the new building into this context without penalizing its feasibility, the project plays with both the programmatic and urban constraints to produce quite a creative proposal.
Suspended over a front garden, the buildings front facade is carved and sculpted to create volumes that connect with the different planes of the street facade.
This allows the project to integrate into its surroundings while subtly contrasting with the neighboring static masses.
The different distortions on the buildings front facade create generous alternating apartment balconies.
These balconies are orientated south-west and overlook the street, they offer various framed views and direction while also providing sun protection during the summer months.
The outer street facade is a concrete mesh, used to preserve the intimacy of the extensively glazed units.
Its mineral quality, along with the wooden frames and balcony decking, clearly affirm this housing program next to the office buildings.
Made of white Glass Fiber-reinforced concrete, this suspended skin, specifically designed for the project, is based on an unique pattern : a 1400x3070 high modules and 3 moulds.
Behind the lattice screen, the inner facade is clad with white lacquered perforated aluminium panels.
An inhabited garden
The depth of the plot and the stone wall are visible to the passers-by due to the wide entrance passage situated under the main building which integrate all the common spaces.
Beyond that threshold, the courtyard is a small heaven of calm amongst the greenery of the vegetation. Pushed up against the site limit, each of the courtyard units benefit from a south facing orientation and unimpeded views overlooking the planted terraces behind the adjacent buildings.
The inhabited garden emphasizes individual scale and access. Fragmented volumes, house-like buildings, patios and external staircases emerge from the vegetation and its landscape.
Clad in timber, the courtyard facades creates a conscious contrast with the street side. Its horizontal strips slide under the entry porch to connect the front and the back gardens while stressing the depth of the plot.
Made of Retified wood on a black rain screen, the future grey facades will enhance the golden metallic windows and frames.
The landscaped areas include a broad range of trees, shrubs and plants : Prunus Serrula and its remarkable bark, Ace Davidii, Cornus Siberica and Phornium Terraxto preserve the privacy of the units, Stipa Grandifolia as perennial grasses. The courtyard also includes a shared planted roof terrace, accessible to all inhabitants via an external metallic staircase.
Organized around the landscape, the division into two buildings of various scales permits a great variety of apartments : studio, one bedroom flat, crossing two or three bedroom flats on the street, doubly orientated living rooms in the courtyard, duplex...
The east-west orientation of the site allows each living room to benefit from a south exposure. The bedrooms are located on the quiet courtyard side with clear views over the back gardens and beyond. The interior circulations are kept to a minimum to increase the size of the living rooms.
All apartments have spacious private outdoor areas adapted to each specific situation that preserve their intimacy : loggias-balcony on the street, ground terrace in a garden behind vegetation, patio...
The quality of the apartments extend beyond interior spaces. Great attention has been paid to outdoor areas. Conceived as an open place which gives access to all the facilities, it offers a pleasant living environment for social interaction.