Constructing on such a vast area in the very heart of Paris, where nothing has been built yet, calls for an encounter between the remote and the present. With the challenge to produce architectural continuity and convergence to determine the new architectural style of the site, this winning proposal by SOA Architectes aims to establish familiar ties with its environment. It is not only about unveiling what is already present in the urban unconscious of the Tolbiac district but also about inventing a new way of telling its story. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The project has to create a strong and living connection on its future foundation, capable to witness the fertility of the site and the surrounding green promenade. That’s the reason why the store windows on the ground floor of the project, generally rather nonexistent and immaterial, are very welcoming, open and more suggestive than usual. Designed like a lobby or forum, the store front becomes modular, allowing further multiple functions. The building’s base is designed in a very sober style and offers a firmly contemporary image due to the elegant rhythm of its wooden carpentry.
The façades of the two big residential volumes are entirely constructed and put up in solid brick. The use of this robust material, able to convey its materiality in a tangible way, tends to strengthen the architectural language typical of the Masséna district. The distinction between stores and housing units is highlighted by the opposition of the used materials. No doubt, the roughness of the brick and the design of the façade highlight the building’s difference from the avenue’s offices and equipment.
The first volume, giving onto Avenue de France, plays with verticality. In response to the extreme monumentality of the various buildings located in front of it, the volume raises into the sky developing into two separate towers creating its own language. The resulting urban figure of proximity, developed around vertical faults, recalls numerous residential towers in the 13th arrondissement. It also allows to leave its mark at the angle of the avenue de France and the future eagerly awaited pedestrian square.
Contrary to all expectations, the second residential volume, giving onto the surrounding hills and the green promenade, seems to levitate like a cloud above the ground and stretches out towards the sky. The volume creates domestic plots and has a deep impact on the line of the horizon. Towards West, the balconies and loggias all have planted window boxes and a view onto the green promenade, the roof installation of the crèche and the entrance hall.
The crèche is located alongside the green promenade, protected from the noise of the avenue. Symbolically, it reveals itself in three times and on three scales. Firstly, connected to the garden, the crèche occupies a double span withdrawn from the hall to receive its occupants properly. The structure then develops between hall and housing units, in a perfectly transparent layer. Finally, it colonizes the very heart of the roof with its perched pavilion, small peaceful haven of peace, protected from gazes but open onto the horizon and the sky.
Architects: SOA Architectes
Location: Paris, France
Collaborators: IGREC (BET TCE + Economie), Inddigo (HQE)
Environment: H&E Profil A option BBC performance, Climate Plan City of Paris
Client: Paris Habitat OPH
Surface Area: 8000 m²
Program: Mixed-use building comprising 74 social housing units, crèche for 30 infants and activities on the ground floor
Budget: 12 M €HT
Photographs: Courtesy of SOA Architectes