Text description provided by the architects. The Mayor of Montlouis-sur-Loire has launched an ambitious urban study for the creation of a new town center – the Zone d’AménagementConcertée (ZAC), or special planning district, known as the “Heart of the City” – in this municipality of 12,000 inhabitants situated on the left bank of the Loire, 12 kilometers east of TOURS. A vast area of land was made available before beginning this urban development project, which comprises a diverse range of residences and services surrounding a landscaped public park. The town has demonstrated its ecological commitment by choosing a project management team with extensive experience in environmentally conscious design. The architect Philippe MADEC, a specialist in the subject, directed the team (BLM architects & BROISSAND Architects) in defining the urban project and the ground plan for the new constructions.
“The sequencing of the buildings (vertical and horizontal, architectural, etc.) will extend the diversity of the surrounding structures. The goal is to avoid creating a monolithic effect in the new section of town, which would contrast brutally with the existing, heterogeneous built environment. The buildings’ thin volumes should, incidentally, encourage the maximum number of housing accommodations with double exposure. The town and the developer are aiming to concretize a town-center project that is qualitative on all levels: landscape, architecture, quality of housing, functional diversity and environmental quality.”
Our architectural plan for 49 social housing estates was the first to be launched after the municipality’s approval of the urban planning project. In order to extend and concretize the environmental requirements indicated in the specifications for the project, we undertook our study after having visited several exemplary developments with similar environmental and economic objectives and built within a comparable urban context. The eco-district of Freiburg in Germany was amongst the emblematic and persuasive experiments that have influenced our work, and with which we wish to affirm a connection. The special relationship maintained between private and collective areas (the communal service areas – the exterior spaces) is particularly successful and establishes the conditions for effective community-living and social interaction. During our visit, we noted the quality of public spaces (interior and exterior), sites of exchange and collective activity upon which the success of such a project depends.
The quantifiable energy aspect (solar panels – insulation – heat production – etc.) of the environmental agenda is combined with the implementation of collective residential practices designed to encourage the sharing of equipment (crèches – laundry facilities – garage – etc.) and resources (water – heating – waste disposal). These two aspects of the sustainable development approach are complementary, demonstrating the success of this eco-district: ecology as a practice of the collective habitat.