Architects: Hélène Fricout-Cassignol Architects
Location: Louviers, France
Area: 2,200 sqm
Photographs: Hélène Fricout-Cassignol Architects
The Henri Durand residence, a centre for housing and community reintegration, was built for the Salvation Army by the housing association Eure Habitat in Louviers (27). The aim of this centre is to welcome, provide accommodation and offer aid, assistance and support to people of all ages and from all horizons. Considering the intimate nature of the residence, it was determined that part of the building should turn towards the heart of the site. Helping the residents in their personal reconstruction by offering a welcoming set up and allowing them to calmly accomplish everyday activities are encouraged by a simple, obvious and user-friendly lay-out.
The architecture of the building demanded subtle attention to treat differently the inside and the outside, the private and the public, open and closed, freedom and control. The project proposes an interiorized building, easily understood and accessible to all. Turned in towards the centre of the plot, protected from its not very attractive outside environment, the social housing centre integrates a regulated functioning in an easy to live in and reassuring architecture. Activities are grouped together to concentrate the circulation flows, while spaces are open transparently onto ornamental gardens. The building is designed to be easily appropriated by everyone. The project treats areas differently according to whether they are dedicated to communal or private activities.
The project spreads the building over the plot in two distinct wings linked by a glass hallway, which encloses an interior garden. The ground floor houses communal areas as well as administrative and logistic areas, while all the bedrooms are grouped together upstairs. At the entrance of the site, the orientation of the first wing, in line with the North/South axis, affirms the identity of the Centre with its long street-side façade. The entrance hall slides out of the building, making itself easily found, inviting and welcoming visitors inside the centre.
The second wing is an extension of the entrance hall and occupies the length of the plot of land. It separates the logistic centre – car park, delivery bay – from the rest of the site. Communal areas such as the restaurant and the multi-use hall open to the south and are extended with pinewood terraces onto the garden. The warm atmosphere of the ground floor and that, more inclined towards intimacy, of the upper floor are incorporated in the treatment of the façades. The deep cut window frame of the special-needs bedrooms (a fixed frame and a window) contrast with the big coloured glass panels of the ground floor that express an openness to the outside world.
The façades, colourful and mainly glass-made, play with the light, illuminating generous areas for circulation and open staircases, in contrast with a calming whiteness that precedes the intimacy of the bedrooms. Comfort, modular and quality of use We have anticipated the potential need to have certain rooms communicate with each others by leaving a partition wall free of any fittings thus limiting the costs of any further modification. The shower room allows for a rotation circle of 1m 50 not including the sanitary furniture. A communal bathroom, enjoying natural light, has been planned with a bath in the middle; it’s truly a room for bathing in! In the 3 special-needs accommodation units, kitchen units have been deliberately conceived with a higher worktop, facilitating the passage of wheelchairs underneath. The kitchen hob, sink, stove position, refrigerator and boiler are integrated in a fitted unit covering the whole of one wall giving onto the living room.
Certification “Qualitel Label THPE (very high energy result) (- 20%)” and certification “Habitat environnement”. The building complies with the Thermie Regulation 2005 norm: comfort during the winter is ensured by thermal isolation performing beyond regulatory requirements with a CRéf – 10%. Windows benefit from a reinforced isolation. During summer, comfort is optimized by inertia of the building, solar protections on the double glazing, and the design of the roofs that allow to stabilize, as much as is reasonably possible, the inside temperature. Rainwater is collected on the roof terraces. It goes through infiltration boxes then in a buried storage. Green spaces are treated with inside gardens, reachable through wooden terraces.