Text description provided by the architects. Hamonic et Masson’s mixed-use office and housing building is part of an initiative to preserve and reuse the industrial heritage of the southern quarters of Le Havre, France. Through its scale, rhythm, shape and materials, the project forms an integral part of a re-envisioned harbour landscape, creating the transition between a domestic scale and the greater harbour landscape.
A 19th century brick warehouse, or avéole, was conserved and incorporated into the project to house the office space required in the programme. The warehouse’s silhouette and scale subsequently inspired the repetitive module that was used for the housing portion of the project. The use of modules allowed for a prefabricated construction system, both for the concrete structure and the metal façade.
The southern, dockside, elevation comprises of a pattern of metal balustrades and sun-shading devices that refer to the character of the site: galvanised metal, grey fabric blinds that help enliven the façade and white fabric privacy screens.
The apartments are all double orientated with living spaces and large balconies facing south towards the water and services to the north. Outdoor passageways and staircases provide access to the apartments while also providing a dynamic northern façade.
To each apartment is given the same benefits - outdoor private space, direct southern light, sun shading systems and natural ventilation - despite the fact that the programme includes both social housing and high quality apartments for sale. The differences occur only within: owners buying off the plan were able to modify and adapt their apartments during construction, and the majority of private apartments have double height living rooms with mezzanines.
The entire building is lifted a half-floor above the quay to clearly define the limit between public and private space and to liberate the ground floor for a naturally ventilated parking and garden. This half-floor is enclosed by a pattern of perforated metal sheeting and green glass panels, graphically referring to the vegetation found in the neighbouring park and urban space, designed by Obras architects.