Vincent Lavergne’s office works in the fields of architecture, urban planning and research. Based in Paris, it develops its activities around the issues of city transformation on different scales, encompassing the adjustment of urban phenomena to the new requirements of sustainable development.
The office is called upon complex and technical projects where the urban and architectural aspects are inseparable, such as operations on ancient infrastructures, major restructuring programs, overlapping programs, industrial conversions. It is currently leading several projects such as the construction of Tour Commune (first wood structure high-rise building in Paris, 2021), a complex operation of infrastructure and housing in the Ménilmontant neighborhood (Paris, 2021), the transformation of Cité des Aulnes (Aulnay-sous-Bois, 2022), the modification and raising of Tour Watt (highest addition of wood structure storeys in Europe, Paris 2020), and the construction of 270 solid stone and wood structure residential units (Rosny-Sous-Bois, 2020). It recently completed the construction of Îlot Montjoie (Saint-Denis, 2017), which includes 272 individual housing units, a school, a recreational facility and a gymnasium.
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TOUR COMMUNE200 student housing units, facilities and Metro line 10 access; Paris (75), France; Completion 2021; Paris Habitat
In collaboration with Atelier WOA.
Tour Commune is an ambitious project that entails building a 50-meter wooden high-rise in Paris. Our project implements the subtle articulation of urban issues specific to the neighborhood, architectural issues specific to the program and technical issues linked to building with wood. The Commune Tower is thus a manifesto of a new era where wood construction and metropolitan issues finally meet up. The potential of wood in the articulation of architecture and structure is expressed in multiple ways, from the building entrance to the rooftop garden: on the façade, wood lies beneath an aluminum shell, visible beneath the thickness of the walls, where it is best protected. As one nears the building and looks up, the wood is visible from below. Wood is also present inside the building: the student housing units boast the development of a “mirador alcove” in maritime pine that looks out over the city. Halfway up, just above the historic Parisian height limit of 25-meter, the tower is recessed to generate various collective spaces with different degrees of intimacy: the collective dimension of the program is thus also expressed in the façade. Communal spaces extend outside via balconies and suspended terraces, designed as tiered green spaces of biodiversity. The rooftop terrace is a large belvedere with vegetable patches and trees. Finally, the project creates the conditions of reversibility or maximal mutability of the building. The post and beam structure used on the façade creates the most ample free space between the structure and concrete core.
MÉNILMONTANT85 housing units, sports facilities, bulky waste recycling unit and garden; Paris (75), France; Completion 2021; Paris Habitat
At the foot of Père-Lachaise cemetery, the site of the Ménilmontant project is ideal for its location, visibility, landscape quality and history. The project is aligned with the Boulevard de Ménilmontant, and a large opening in the middle offers a passage to the heart of the site where the garden and sports facilities are located. This opens the ensemble in a way that invites city dwellers in, while maintaining continuity with the existing urban fabric through its buildings. The architectural treatment is underpinned by the notion of full-empty. The two apartment buildings are treated with brick, which accentuates their mass. The empty spaces are treated with timber cladding, like a precious material revealed by what’s removed. The gymnasium is the twin of the mass of housing units, a simple volume of metal and glass that looms in transparent lightness. The variety of the program and numerous constraints of the site have led to a layered approach of the project, conceived globally from the urban scale to its auxiliary systems to result in an architecture that is economically tenable, ecologically viable and humanly rich.
ÎLOT MONTJOIE272 housing units, school and sports facilities; Saint-Denis (93), France; Completed 2017; Sequano Aménagement
In collaboration with Atelier Novembre.
In the new quarter of the Montjoie urban development zone in Saint-Denis, the different lots are intended to function as semi-autonomous perimeter blocks. Once all the parcels are completed, the blocks will form a new fragment of coherent city. Our project proposes to work on the block/building and the stakes of unity and density that go along with it. Designed as a dense and compact ensemble, the buildings spiral around to construct the streets that line the site. The architectural project is a mirror construction of the urban project. The paths that cross the parcel from one side to the next connect the project’s spaces to the general urban weave. The block’s internal network both breaks its monumentality, creates visual openings and feeds the different programs. The elements of the program are fitted together. Beyond simple superpositions, genuine topography and sculpturing of the ground creates original collective spaces. Usages are permeable and amply thought out. New uses bud from elsewhere, both within and outside the block. In an era of post-financial crisis, it appears sobriety is an exemplary conceptual tool that architects must henceforth work with. Here it is found in the materiality of the project: from the public space, the Montjoie project appears as a compact brick mass whose green center is only glimpsed through a few openings. Inside, the plaster and wood façades incorporate a more domestic dimension, emphasized by the generous central garden.
TOUR WATTRehabilitation, extension and raising of Tour du Loiret; Paris (75), France; Completion 2020; ICF Novedis
Built against the podium that covers the train tracks, the Watt tower is both a hub and an urban connector between two eras and two levels of the city – between old and new. A high-rise, generally an isolated object, rarely encompasses as many stakes in the development of its quarter. More than the simple architectural transformation of the building, this particular project is a strong signal of urban change in the district. A mineral podium effect is created on the first three levels to anchor the building in the ground. The upper floors are encased in panels of expanded metal to look like they were extracted from the mineral ground. The metallic skin, which shifts reflections as the panels are moved, covers the four façades to create unity on the upper part of the tower. The raised extension of the final stories is made of wood, designed like a succession of cascading green terraces. Apart from the lightness of the wood structure, its relatively simple workmanship makes sense in the pursuit of low carbon buildings which are more environmentally respectful.
In collaboration with Atelier WOA.
The operation is located in a special planning district that marks a major entrance to the city of Rosny. The landscape is distinguished by the Beauclair plateau which offers a horizon of nature on the city scale. The Rue de Lisbonne street is the northern boundary of the plateau, and the alignment of the building currently keeps the street in the shade. By creating an opening in the northern façade, the project profoundly changes the conditions of the site by allowing sunlight in. This simple idea improves the urban conditions of buildings as well as the intrinsic qualities of the housing units it contains. The central opening creates a private interior courtyard with full southern exposure that lends itself effectively to the residents’ usage. On either side of the opening, cascading terraces create a landscape of suspended gardens that echo the plateau in the background. The succession of tiered greenery softens the height of the project which nevertheless culminates at 12 stories. The relationship with the ground as well as the limits of the site are treated in stone podiums of varying heights; as we go up the plateau, we discover wood buildings resting on stone podiums and bordered by large balconies. This subtle dialogue between massive stone and wood framework is implemented through traditional processes that have been updated through recent advances in wood construction. Thus, the new urban identity of the site will boast a certain number of values such as energy responsibility or the search for more pertinent building systems, to offer inhabitants an extremely high architectural quality.
TOUR T(H)REEFacilities, offices, hotels, auditorium and school; New York, USA; Competition 2018; Private
In collaboration with Atelier WOA.
T(h)ree is a project for an expandable wooden tower for the city of New York. In the US, it’s customary for tower construction sites to plan a free plot for the erection of the building proper, and a roughly equivalent surface area built only a few levels up then left open to provide the tower with views. The idea for our project stems from the observation that, prompted by the densification of cities, towers tend to multiply and the metropolitan landscape generalizes this alternation between built sky surface and open sky surface. Wethus felt it was essential to work the urban podiums and their rooftops by activating programmatic diversity that will integrate the new tower on the ground where it is built. Designed to be a genuine metaphor of the city on the building scale, the T(h)ree tower contains within its podium the human and material resources to expand in keeping with its needs. The FabLab on the garden level produces the elements that will be used for its future expansion. The prefabricated elements are transported into the concrete core via a special elevator, and will build the successive rings of the tower’s potential extensions. With a wooden structure inspired by the growth process of trees, it spreads organically in successive layers around its concrete core. The various programs are distributed in three blocks stacked up and connected by common areas. These spaces, genuine suspended plazas, open onto large planted terraces and welcome leisure activities.
Barcelona’s urban fabric reveals a rich urban history, of which the latest demonstration was its organization into octagonal blocks of 113 meters each side designed by Cerdà in the 19th century. Here, we question the mutability of such a fabric by inventing a mixed block project, assimilable to the macro-lot, which draws its qualities from local, traditional architecture. Cerdà’s urban organization planned for square blocks with leveled heights, and these “absent triangles” form the matrix of our project, which is developed in two superposed layers. On the ground floor, the block remains eminently urban: under airy arches of brick reminiscent of traditional Spanish architecture lies a covered market open onto neighborhood streets. Patios allow light into the heart of the block, cut through by a wide planted pedestrian mall. On the upper level is a layer of housing connected by a network of semi-private alleys and gardens, alternating between shade and light. The townhouses cleverly combine density and independence (the houses are only connected by the tips of their triangles). The Villacerdà project thus proposes an interweaving of programs that conciliates both urban and residential moments. It invents new ways of living between the complexities of contemporary urban life and the traditional simplicity of shapes and materials.
In collaboration with Atelier WOA.
The search for a dialectic between industrial architecture – also a constituent of the site’s identity – and contemporary architecture is the basis of the architectural intentions for the Lyon Confluence district. The Ybrid tower is the first ambassador of this renewal. The building’s exoskeleton borrows the vocabulary of the concrete floor arches present on the existing structures, evidence of the site’s industrial past. The concrete exoskeleton forms the load-bearing façades of the structures and surrounds the wooden framework that makes up the interior elements of the building. The issue here is to reflect the city by working on the scale of the whole block rather than simply the building. The project proposes a mixed-use block open to the district: the ground floors comprise an active podium that connects the life of the block to the daily life of the district. The central garden becomes an extension of public space through various physical and visual openings. Prominence is given to usages and imbrication of programs, in order to create a place with high communal value: housing, offices, activities and facilities are implanted in the buildings and reflect an idea based on the joint notions of thresholds, temporalities and the mutability of space.
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The artwork restoration studios of the Rijksmuseum are currently located along a canal in the iconic cityscape of Amsterdam. The obsolescence of current premises calls for intervention, although here we chose to flatly deny the demolition/rebuilding that is customary in such a context. Indeed, we feel the urbanism of a city must be constantly renewed through targeted, subtle and intelligent projects that adapt its fabric to current metropolitan conditions. Moreover, it seems important to maintain the continuity of the institute’s activity during renovations in order to minimize impact. The extension project is designed as an infill in the fabric bordering the canal bend. It connects the two existing buildings; a new access is created in contact with the existing studios and connects work spaces and areas of restoration. The extension opens out like a fan between the existing structures and offers the city a new kinetic façade punctuated by ridges of weathering steel. The sheds extend toward the water to find the light necessary for restorers to carry out their tedious work. Inside, concrete grooving punctuates the studio spaces, softened by the warm tones of the interior woodwork.
AMIRAL BRUIXOffice building rehabilitation and extension; Paris (75), France; Competition 2015; AXA Investissement, Vinci
Located alongside the Bois de Boulogne where landscape blends with built heritage, the building seems to overhang a back garden while maintaining a firm stance onto the street. Not merely for pleasure, the garden is a central element of the building’s relationship to its environment, marked by the strong presence of greenery in the neighborhood. Our project for the building extension literally opens the ground with a large patio which makes it possible to exploit the spatial potential of the building’s existing basement. The first basement level therefore benefits from natural light and collective usage. Thus paradoxically, part of the requested supplementary usable surface area already exists; our project merely activates and reveals it by striving to use the building’s existing capacities to their best advantage. This also allows for a narrower extension distributed more evenly along the façade. It colonizes the existing structure by touches, fitting into the hollows and empty spaces left by the building. The façade along Boulevard Bruix catalyzes several of the project’s ambitions. The original frame is highlighted by a system of pivoting panels, allowing the façade to constantly vibrate along the boulevard. The façade of the extension is designed as a sheet of glass and steel that folds and unfolds in keeping with the uses it creates.
RUNGIS D6-BIOOrganic food pavilion, restaurant, offices and 16 sales units; Rungis (94), France; Completed 2015; Semmaris
Since 2013, the Rungis International Market has expanded its offer of organically farmed products. As a new addition to the site, building D6 also offers an enhanced, innovative image. Beyond the creation of an additional sales pavilion, the real issue is the elaboration of a new type of building that can be expanded or replicated. To limit additional features such as “awnings” that could render the ensemble incongruous, the building design integrates all the functions it needs into its envelope. It is designed as the “fusion” of two entities: a wooden center that reflects the ecological ambition of developing organic agriculture at the Rungis Market, and a metallic siding surrounding it as protection from the elements. The siding extends into roofing, bending and stretching in front of the building to provide dynamic unity. Inside, the building is organized around a central circulation, interspersed perpendicularly by an exterior circulation that divides the building in two. On either side of the central circulation, eighteen individual units enable products to be unloaded and stocked. The new sales pavilion meets a need for both flexibility and modularity, since the activity of the units can shift over time.
SIÈGE VINCIOffices, shopping facilities and car park; Bordeaux (33), France; Competition 2013; Vinci Construction
Set in Bordeaux’s historic façade along the Garonne River, the project offers a spatial and formal articulation between the historic fabric and future urban development. The idea is to create a sustainable building that fits into the formal unity of the riverside in a contemporary manner. The bending of the façades lets the building converse directly with the urban fabric it belongs to. The volumetric effects at work present pedestrians with multifaceted buildings that constantly shift in appearance: up close, the building’s convex angles hide the upper floors from view, creating the impression of being inside a traditional Bordeaux fabric with measured dimensions. Yet when one moves back to the riverside, the full extent of the Vinci Construction headquarters is visible: an urban figure, a building-block that folds and unfolds. The formal complexity is counterbalanced by simple and sober architectural expression: the project is composed solely of sculpted fullness and hollowed emptiness, of concrete and glass. The deployment of a solid concrete mass is echoed in the very nature of the commission, which incidentally offers Vinci a genuine showcase of their building expertise.
TOUR CLICHYOffices, shopping facilities and car park; Clichy-la-Garenne (92), France; Competition 2013; Kaufman & Broad
The urban implantation of the project was dictated by the opportunities offered by the parcel: an existing building that remained intact was joined by two new buildings parallel to each other and the beltway. The first, at the forefront, responds to the Haussmannian dimensions of Paris. The second, on the Clichy side, adheres to the more measured dimensions of the suburban fabric, acting as a protector of the area’s strong identity. The key position between city and suburb raises the fundamental question of how metropolitan fringes are treated. The first building is large, tall and powerful. It proudly displays a perforated aluminum shell, penetrated by southern sunrays, overlooking the beltway. The second building is slightly smaller and presents the Rue de Paris with a façade of domestic-looking red bricks. The building’s mass is lightened by four tiered upper stories allowing it to fit in respectfully with the adjacent building. Whereas two distinct buildings and scales can be seen from the outside, the parcel paradoxically displays great unity from within. The central courtyard between the existing structure and new buildings articulates the scales, flow and vocabularies. It is the hub of the system, a calm serene patio tucked away from the city where one can nevertheless fully appreciate the urban atmosphere and views.
The university campus of Talence-Pessac-Gradignan, south of Bordeaux, is characterized by the juxtaposition of large discontinuous volumes and a network of loose and weakly connected express lanes. The network of public spaces is characterized by numerous ruptures and large parking areas or green spaces. The reception and administrative pavilion fits into this varied urban fabric and offers punctuation near the network of public and university transportation. Its contemporary aspect reinvests residual empty spaces and integrates technical elements. The simple, straightforward architectural language of the pavilion is inferred from the topography of the surrounding context and the building’s integration into it. Designed as a covered market beneath which the program elements are laid out, the building is a parallelepiped on expanded metal and glass stilts, with a zinc roof and reachable by a ramp. The façades, covered mainly with expanded metal siding, incorporate multilayer insulation to manage energy consumption. The materials for the façade were selected in harmony with the spirit of the building. The architecture is resolutely contemporary and designed to last over time.
CENTRE D’AIDES SOCIALESExtension; Geneva, Switzerland; International competition 2009; Ville de Genève
In collaboration with Atelier WOA.
A concrete monolith on piles, the existing building responds to the idea that cities have a “modern” heritage which contemporary architecture must fit into. Workplace, welfare center, expression of the public service mission or a crossing point: the nature of its program and situation mean that this project bears great responsibility in the quarter’s urban future. The ground is dug out to give underground floors access to the surface and let them benefit from natural light. The central area is treated as a garden hollowed into the terrain, around which semi-public and collective programs, peripheral walkways and green terraces are arranged. Echoing this on the street, the building’s lower floors are recessed in relation to the public space to create a large entrance porch. The project thus becomes an urban connector: it turns the existing building into a front door for the park. The building extension is designed as a slightly misaligned stack of levels with wood coverings. The same wood partially colonizes the existing building where lightweight boxes grafted onto the modernist façade give it new life. The use of wood also creates an exclusive dialogue with the landscape of the adjoining park.
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DÉTROITTransformation of the Packard Automotive Plant into an urban centre; Detroit, USA; Competition 2014, winning project; Parallel Projection
50 years ago, the Packard Plant was an independent automotive factory producing luxury cars. Today, it’s nothing but abandoned rows of buildings in partial ruins. Nevertheless, the concrete post-and-beam structure remains solid and gives the site its identity. The buildings in good condition are consequently conserved and reinforced, while those in poor condition are destroyed. Cross the Plant proposes to transform the premises into an urban center, based on the spatial qualities of the existing buildings and the main urban axis. The first stage consists of opening the site to the city: new streets are created by breaking up the long building that stretches one kilometer along Concord Avenue into several blocks. Made viable, the site is then integrated into the urban network. Then, in order to engage the mutation of both existing buildings and the land undergoing urban sprawl, we propose a complete process of rehousing. This densification frees up enough space to allow agriculture, thereby creating a new connection between city and country. Numerous facilities accompany the offer of housing units: sports fields, social center, supermarket selling local products from nearby farms and a new cultural center. The new construction market creates short-term jobs, and will allow the Packard zone to evolve from its industrial past toward a more dynamic future.
QUARTIER DES AULNESUrban transformation; Aulnay-sous-Bois (93), France; Ongoing studies; Sequano Aménagement
The Aulnes quarter combines urban stakes on the Grand Paris scale with the local scale of the city of Aulnay-sous-Bois. Analysis of the network on the scale of the city and quarter highlights the larger problems of connecting north and south Aulnay. The demolition of the Galion low-rise block provides an occasion to rethink road structure and rectify the ruptures and lack of continuity in the public space. Our study highlights the urban dimension of the empty space and its incapacity to communicate with different existing forms. We believe the organization of empty space is a major issue and prerequisite to the urban project. It’s firstly a matter of creating a more structured network. Starting with this large undefined public empty space, we propose a succession of hierarchized sequences, places and pedestrian / bike paths articulated around the major public space of the tree-lined mall along Rue Henri Matisse. The buildings will fit in perpendicularly to the street to offer new passages and visual perspectives as well as an aerated building front reminiscent of the residential fabric of southern Aulnay-sous-Bois. The heights will be varied to maintain continuity with existing buildings and guarantee sunlighting. Attention to scaling and rupture of heights will limit the effect of linearity built along the streets Rue Edgard Degas and Rue de Bougainville. What’s more, various studies of the site have shown the importance of the framework of green spaces as a support for composing urban stakes. The landscape prescriptions of joint development zones are focused on promoting the hearts of blocks in connection with the urban space.
RATP PLEYELUrban transformation of a bus depot; Saint-Denis (93), France; Ongoing studies; SEDP, RATP
The Pleyel quarter where the RATP site is located forms a territory marked off by the historic axes of the Plaine Saint-Denis which, paradoxically, encloses the quarter in relationship to the rest of the commune. Its heterogenous urbanization and blue-collar history, strongly influenced by the 30-year post-war boom as well as the crises that followed, have made it witness of the History of the Plaine and economic and social changes at work since 1945. Today, the site strives toward a new centrality of Grand Paris; a territory favoring the emergence of a new economy, notably based on urban density, environmental innovation and digital technologies. The urban project for the evolution of the Pleyel bus depot fits into this overall dynamic. Our work highlights the real potential for the site’s evolution and its capacity to engender the more general development of the block. Making the roof of the bus depot into a public sports field frees up the street space of Landy, and leaves room for housing units and facilities to be built. The large parcels along with the space generated by the horizontality of the sports fields lets us envision high-rise buildings that would create a dialogue with the Tour Pleyel tower. The new blocks are characterized by the typological variety of the different buildings, their numerous scales and their varied programs. Their sizing perfectly lends itself to the imperatives of urban concentration and density, which are some of the major stakes in the development of the quarter.
ÎLOT MIXTE MEDELLINHousing, workshops, offices, stores and facilities; Medellin, Colombia; Competition 2015; Private
The city of Medellin sprawls on the slopes of a basin, and the topography of its hills is marked by the self-building and violence related to drug trafficking. The city center in the bottom of the valley suffers from a lack of activity linked to the systematic implantation of monofunctional districts which are animated in the daytime but leave nights to the mercy of crime. A few years ago, the city council set out to reconquer its center with numerous housing operations. The determination to revitalize districts through new and diverse programming naturally underpins the competition to redevelop the block. Our project first proposes to rebuild the block by increasing the density of existing buildings, joining together its urban fronts and creating a pedestrian walkway that opens the block up to the city and communicates with nearby existing urban elements. The passage welcomes artisanal activities and provides a more permanent base for the informal daytime activities that animate the site. Particular attention is given to opening up the existing church by creating a new parvis that positions it as a genuine urban process. The project aims to sculpt public and collective space, moving from public to the most private on the scale of the block: public square, common courtyard, shared terraces, common rooftop gardens. For housing units, gradation to the private sphere is achieved through an innovative typology, based on a variety of prefabricated modules and movable dividing walls that enable residents to recompose their apartment and open it up to common areas as they see fit, depending on the time of day, making these dwellings genuine “living spaces.”
FROM SPEEDWAY TO MAINSTREETUrban transformation; New York, USA; Competition 2009, finalist project; Bronx Museum of Arts
A finalist proposal in an international competition organized by the Bronx Museum of the Arts, this project creates the conditions for sustainable urban change along the three miles of the Grand Concourse by transposing the physical and ecological qualities of Central Park on an urban scale. The park is an illustration of nature that is not only synonymous with greenery but that infiltrates the global infrastructure of the city; this is brought into play along the urban thoroughfare of the Grand Concourse, where the insertion of a landscape framework in spots where the existing urban framework is weak creates a hybrid, solid, poetic and dynamic fabric. Streets and tramways occupy the ground level in connection with commercial programs of ground floors. Freed from these infrastructures, building rooftops can be turned into calm pedestrian-friendly public spaces where different programs overlap in light structures: offices, schools, public facilities, housing. Urban nature spreads along the Grand Concourse by infiltrating gaps, openings, interstices, fissures and residues of the urban framework to create a multitude of poetic landscapes: art deco cliffs, a canyon of buildings, a sea of rooftops and squares like clearings. The city is conceived as a full-fledged ecosystem where the balance between nature and city creates the numerous opportunities of the project.
CITTÀ DELLA SCIENZAUrban transformation of the Precision Electrical Components Factory; Rome, Italy; Competition 2015; City of Rome
This project is rooted in the easement of the warehouses from the Precision Electrical Components factory, former military grounds that face Rome’s new contemporary art museum, the MAXXI. We drew the district in negative, beginning not by existing edifices but rather by the open spaces that engender them. The guiding element of the new City of Science district is a monumental central square; the district is freed from cars by rerouting traffic flow onto the streets surrounding the site. The ensuing public space is thus a moving, vibrant area that extends inside the district.We believe that a city’s capacity to self-regenerate at its core is the guarantee of a sustainable metropolitan future. It provides the basis of renewable relationships with its history, inhabitants and the future they trace out together. Maintaining the comb – like organization of the former barracks seems to carry urbanity, in which the project maintains a sustained imbrication between built elements and public spaces. The double framework of each barracks allows the placement of new housing units with genuine volumetric and typological diversity. The systematic occupation of the ground floors for activities or businesses allows urban stimulation in this new swathe of city. The resulting social richness cements the district and lets it affirm a strong identity in Rome’s contemporary cityscape.
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RÉSIDENCE SOCIALE ADOMA306 housing units and shopping facilities; Villiers-sur-Marne (94), France; Completion 2019; Adoma
This operation of demolition-rebuilding of the Hautes-Noues social housing project, which will offer living quarters to over 9,650 people in the process of integration, fits into the current dynamic of renovation at work in the municipality of Villiers-sur-Marne. To take into account the future densification of the terrain, the new housing project is located at the back of the lot behind the existing one. Three evenly-spaced avant-corps on the street façade soften the effect that too harsh a frontality would have created. In the outdoor public spaces surrounding the building as well as the interior spaces that open onto each other, emphasis is placed on bringing residents together. The social housing complex is indeed designed around common areas and private spaces with true interiority. The project also includes a clear and noticeable landscape element: the building’s morphology responds both to the urban outskirts project and provides for the creation of interior gardens which the units open onto. With 2,400 m3 of wooden structure for only 45 tons of steel, the project currently represents the largest wood construction in France, with a floor surface of 6,836 m2. Using dry construction systems such as wood allows for rapid construction and drastically reduces the production deadline: many elements are prefabricated and ready for on-site installation. The association of traditional building techniques (post and beam systems) with innovative expertise such as the alliance of wood, metal and concrete, contribute to the improvement of building performance.
PENTE-HOUSE22 multiple housing units; Annemasse (74), France; Competition 2011, winning project; Société de Genève
The project, overlooking Annemasse in Haute-Savoie, aims to reconcile a natural feature of the landscape (the slope) with a program of collective housing units, in the spirit of mutual enrichment. The project consists of three simple 50m-long rectangular buildings placed parallel to one another. In keeping with the landscape constraints and the particularly abrupt topography of the site, the project follows the slope of the hill for the greatest geographic and landscape continuity possible. Positioned such, the buildings’ visual impact on the city is slight because only the width of their smallest side is visible, which is coherent with the existing individual houses. Mimicking the slope at a 15% gradient, the buildings’ relationship to the incline gives them an uncommon look, an impression of imbalance the architecture plays with. Apartments are built on six different levels, and the large ones enjoy all the domestic qualities of a house. The buildings are raised slightly off the ground and rest on a succession of posts (rather than walls). Their impact on the supporting soil is therefore limited, and they straddle existing roads which saves on new infrastructures. Light wooden walkways flanking both sides of the buildings provide access to the homes. The wood skin accentuates the relationship to the slope by highlighting the acute angle between the ground and the vertical larch cleats. It also adds to the overall impression of weightlessness, as the buildings appear to rest lightly on the ground without disturbing the balance.
MAGISTRATURE MIRAIL130 student housing units; Bordeaux (33), France ; Completion 2018; SCI du Mirail
In collaboration with Nadau Architecture.
The Mirail project is an ensemble of 125 student housing units for the École de la Magistrature that fits into a fabric of single-story houses in the center of Bordeaux. It offers an honest mediation between contemporary architecture and insertion within a highly characteristic existing fabric. The morphology of the project evokes the vernacular forms of cloisters, where several buildings were organized around voids of various sizes. Five buildings are thus centered around the courtyard that creates the necessary breathing space and outfitting of gardens, green punctuation to the path. These courtyards allow one to cross the project while offering the vast majority of the units calm or shady atmospheres. The mineral evocation, inspired by the fabric of Bordeaux, is emphasized by the use of massively tinted concrete panels while the wood-clad loggias retreat into the hollows of the South and East façades. The roof is covered with half-round tiles, whose edges and trough gutters are entirely in zinc. Thus, seen from the outside, they blend into the surrounding buildings, but from inside the courtyards, they become more discreet and all we see is the unity of the operation. The play of noble materials, worked as a whole, respects and underscores the history of the district while bearing its future-looking identity.
This project is the prow of a block that marks the entrance to the Grand Central Saint-Lazare project currently underway. The context makes it a pivotal architectural element, a cross between public and semi-public space where a variety of people interact: workers, travelers and local inhabitants. Its destination as a family boarding house for abused women reinforces the atypical character of the operation in this extremely high-profile location. The creation of a shop largely open on the ground floor helps the project fit in with the neighborhood and urban space of the train station. The building is treated simply both in terms of volume and materials. It’s designed as a sober reinterpretation of Haussmannian architecture and the low-income housing around the outskirts of Paris. The podium and housing units are treated homogenously so as not to complexify the visual aspect of the building. The openings are as generous as possible and the windows follow the typical Haussmann layout – in other words with an apron close to the ground and a two-shuttered French opening. This brings a certain nobility to the building, reinforced by the use of contemporary material, coated brick, that is close to the distinctive coloring of Parisian buildings in cut stone.
MAISONS BLANCHES114 housing units and individual housing; Bussy-Saint-Georges (77), France; Completion 2020; Nexity
The realization of this project of 90 housing units and 26 single-family dwellings fits into the mixed development zone ecodistrict of Sycomore in the Bussy-Saint-Georges municipality. Sycomore is a transition space between the Jossigny plain and the existing districts of Bussy Saint-Georges. The placement of the edifices is scattered, to reflect their location between the two distinctly different urban fabrics. The single-family houses are placed along the green paths of the mixed development zone that lie to the north and west of the block. This limits the buildings’ impact on the areas surrounding the planted zones and creates green continuity between private gardens and the alleyways of the project. The multiple dwelling structures face the more urban fronts of the Rue Pavée and Avenue de l’Europe. The multiple housing units result from an imbrication of pure, white volumes and represent the morphological gradation from the scale of the individual dwellings to that of the apartment buildings. The single-family dwellings, simple volumes set back and jutting out in staggered rows, create an impression of complexity while generating private outdoor spaces. Thus, in spite of the apparent complexity, the ensemble is treated with great morphological and aesthetic unity.