The design and build of 17 rue d’Amsterdam was subject to sensitive constraints due to its position in an area marked by the architectural heritage of the French railways and now undergoing profound urban renewal. Still, the project used heritage and the wider constraints to create a style that both collects and reconciles these different influences.
The boarding house is an alternative housing offer for people in social need: helping those that are underprivileged and excluded socially. Through a durable and long lasting design it provides a safe space permitting long-term care. The design creates intimate collective living spaces around the new residence, rich in personal space and privacy. As in a large home, residents can live socially if they wish, but each has their own personal space if and when the need arises.
The building has been treated simply, both in massing and in materials, in a sober reinterpretation of Haussmannian architecture and the HBM housing seen on the outskirts of Paris. The ground floor and homes have been designed homogenously, so as not to complicate the narrative of the building, while openings are as generous as possible. The windows take the form and arrangement of typical Haussmannian openings – with a spandrel close to the ground and opening in the French style into two leaves. The design brings a certain nobility to the building, reinforced by the use of a contemporary material – coated brick – which resembles the characteristic colour of Parisian freestone buildings.