Text description provided by the architects. The Hoche ecodistrict is rising from the ground on old industrial sites. It has to mediate between the scale of the Chemin-de-l’Ile park and the A14 motorway that cuts through it, and the far smaller scale of an area of detached houses dating back to the 1930s.
The two plots selected for the development are a good illustration of the challenge. The housing is divided into housing blocks that are look onto public space and face the eight-storey towers between them and the motorway and a square, but in the centre of the block are houses of the same dimensions as the existing detached houses.
On Rue Germaine Tillion, there are open staircases that cut through the buildings. Aside from offering views of the inside of the blocks, these openings let sunlight into the street and provide natural aeration and ventilation to the flats’ toilets and bathrooms. Breaking up the street side of the buildings helps to recreate the varying heights of the neighbouring buildings.
The flats occupy the full width of the building and open onto loggias that look out over the landscaped central garden. Optimising the layout of the apartments has made it possible to offer large main living spaces. Storerooms adjoining the loggias provide tenants with versatile extra storage space. The roofs of the smaller blocks are occupied by tops of the split-level apartments.
The rationale of the design process can be observed in the details. The metal cladding, caged ladders and lamps of industrial inspiration are set off by the warmer tones of the wooden window and door frames and loggias.
A built strip along the square accommodates a number of three-storey flats. Its slate-grey façade is screened by a row of trees planted in a landscaped hollow, and is studded with balconies. Here too the apartments run from one side of the building to the other, with daylight and natural ventilation entering from the heart of the block.
The three-storey town houses have the most spacious dimensions of all. Their tall blocks are split to cast light into the bathrooms and onto the staircase landings. The outside of the blocks is a slate-grey colour to ensure that the plants stand out rather than the buildings. The gaps between the blocks are white to let light in and to bring life to the garden. The ground-floor roofs of the houses are generously greened to enhance the natural feel of the central court.