All images by Stéphane Chalmeau
In the heart of Great Paris, architecture firm Tetrarc Architectes have been involved with a major renewal project spread over a site of 74 hectares and what use to be the location of former Renault car factories. The vast project has seen the construction of two social housing complexes based on the same plot and designed by the same firm. The set of dwellings are differentiated by their contrasting architecture styles seen in two separate structures.
Rising at seven-storeys, ‘Plot A’- the four white buildings is distinguished by their use of clean and sharp lines; referencing the large mansions built by Baron Haussmann seen in Paris’ city centre. On the roof, the interplay of different openings and a series of decorative towers interrupt the sharp aesthetic of the scheme. Protected by a metal, sculptural mesh, these towers contain the vertical passages for access to four apartments on each floor. Comprised of interwoven riveted aluminum this feature references ‘a number of allusions to the industrial history of the area without becoming mired in nostalgic reminiscence. The pure and simple joy of living here is revealed by the simplicity and quality of the building.’
Behind this frontage, where it joins the future secondary school for plot A, there are fifteen properties in an apartment block built over three storeys, plus lofts. Offering a more secluded, quieter urban environment, enlivened by external loggia-type extensions which are partially open and private, the spaces between them display intricate wooden cladding which mirrors the cycle of light and shade throughout the day.
These two projects in the block are separated by a zig-zag pathway, interspersed with a scattering of silver birch trees. The buildings are connected by a porch on the eastern side, a connection which leaves two levels open. The white-metal and wooden-clad schemes have delivered social housing with thoroughly planned internal and external spaces aimed for tenants on modest incomes. The buildings serve as a cultural and local landmark which in turn, provides continuity to the wider renewal project and a reflection on future social housing developments.