Paris, France, 2013-03-10 -
The project finds its place in a band, potentially flooded, between the Seine and the railroad, shores and hillsides. These are occupied by “bourgeoises” mansions, theirs gardens and parks. The riversides shows a mix of homes, modest or opulent - self-built huts, old houses, speculative operations industrial plants or deposits expiring or abandoned.
To preserve the views taken by the houses on the hillsides, and respect their size, homes are grouped into four blocks along the street, served by two transversal volumes that connect them. They regroup the circulation, and their generous windows let the sun and the views in. It’s a respiration between Seine and views, not only a passage but a place for neighbors to meet. This spatial configuration also generates multiples orientations for the apartments. Finally, this implantation is also efficient - the building occupies only 40% of the parcel.
This natural ground left unconstructed is partly given to the apartments, partly to community gardens, a path separating them. It will connect the nearby school and the kindergarten to a future park to be complete soon. Sheltered from the train noise, this trail collects and absorbs rainwater from the building with a natural collector.
Dealings with pods as an intermediate scale, reveals the ambition to keep a domestic scale. Aligning them quietly on the street with their three floors, give them a reasonable scale, similar to the beautiful villas of the neighborhood. However, the emerging volumes on the roof depict this dream of a house. While at the rear, the deconstruction of the volumes responds to the variety of the city, revealing balconies and terraces.
The risk of flooding on the area made us create an elevated base that separates the private gardens and the street. These slightly elevated gardens offered accommodation at ground floor without sacrificing privacy. Along the street separated by a fence, small paths allow the residents to access their homes directly from their gardens.
The whole composition gives the impression of a polite residence, trying to recompose with the ancient dignity of the street materialized by the lime trees alignment that still can be seen on the other side of the road.
Distributions have been streamlined in order to gain performance. Nevertheless the people gain access to their home gradually: hall outside, staircases and walkways sheltered between two landscapes, before getting to a semi-private floor in relation to their own homes.
The apartment plans include an angle living room. Two sun exposures are offered through bays of remarkable dimensions. The kitchen is the mostly directly accessible from the entrance. Rooms are nested in the heart of the building, while terraces and balconies allow multiple views. The bathrooms are spacious. Floors, windows made of plain wood, add a touch of warmth and comfort.
In 2007, exceeding the ledgal obligations, the building complied with high standards: THPE EnR 2005 + H & E profile A.
To meet these objectives, the building envelope is completely isolated from the outside.
In addition, 100 m2 of solar panels are placed on the roof terraces. They produce more than 50% of the hot water consumption of the building.
To reduce maintenance costs and to limit the use of potentially harmful household products for the environment, glazing areas are self-cleaning.
The question of the rainwater recuperation was a fun opportunity, a story around the water theme:
- Cast iron pipes carry water from the building into the irrigation tubes in the central garden of the operation;
- This landscaped valley contributes to the emergence of a local ecosystem;
- All water is naturally infiltrated into the ground through buried wells, achieving the goal of zero dispersion to the public sewers.
A building is not only a shelter: it’s an invitation; with hospitality. To achieve this, it needs several qualities: attention to its host, sense of welcoming for them to enjoy, discretion, so they don’t feel obliged or indisposed, elegance, to honor them, comfort, accuracy, amenities, so nothing interfere with their experience, economy, so they feel at ease, permanency, to make the time flies. With a spirit of generosity, to make life better.
It’s not about dropping a building on its ground: it’s giving an answer to a specific problem, trying to fix it mostly, always making it better. With kindness. It’s all about dialogue, showing enough humility so we can listen and see, imagination to forecast all opportunities, tenacity not to lose things in the path, ease, so difficulties are not anymore, dignity, as a tribute to the future.
These qualities refer to courtesy and savoir-vivre. We believe these values are the former part and the permanence of our architectural practice: to be useful, to be helpful. The rest is a matter of experience and savoir-faire .